Media marginalise Church and poor
By Devon Dick
On Christmas Day, the TVJ 7 p.m. newscast carried items about persons who are poor and were given an annual meal. One would have expected that the newscast would explain the significance of Christmas Day, that is, as a celebration of God appearing as flesh in Jesus the Christ.
The CVM TV 8 p.m. newscast on Christmas Day was not much better. In addition, one would have expected that there would have been a scene from a church service, but alas, the wait was in vain. In a country which has so many Christian churches and the majority of its citizenry ascribing to the Christian faith, it was inappropriate and insensitive coverage.
Ten years ago, I wrote about The Gleaner's coverage of watchnight services vs New Year's Eve balls. Then, The Gleaner's
And worse was the way in which the Church was marginalised concerning its ministry towards persons who are living below the poverty line. The coverage on Christmas Day and during the Advent season was largely to highlight politicians, persons and organisations that made a one-off plate of food available to persons who were destitute.
One would have thought that the media would have concentrated on the Church and other organisations which, on a weekly basis, have been working to alleviate the conditions of the destitute. It was not until Boxing Day that I witnessed TVJ highlight an organisation in Montego Bay which was involved, on a continuous basis, in caring for those who are living on the margins.
There is no excuse for the poor coverage of the ministry of the Church during Christmas. The electronic media cannot claim that there was no time available because of more pressing news.
Balls, parties and pop concerts get coverage which is highlighted as fun-filled and memorable, while the activities and ministry of the Church are portrayed as mundane and boring.
And even worse is how persons who are poor are treated by the Jamaican media. There are international studies about 'poor reporting' which tends to sensationalise the needs of the poor rather than focus on their possible empowerment.
Jamaican media are doing an injustice to the poor by interviewing them after they have received an annual plate of food and asking what they think of the generosity of these politicians and individuals.
The treatment of the poor is unlike the treatment meted out to persons who are holders of capital. The stark difference in the amount of waivers given to the well oiled is demonstrative of this reality. Approximately seven per cent of GDP, or $92 billion annually, goes to waivers. But when a few million dollars are spent to provide relief for the less fortunate, it is usually classified in the media as pork barrel, unsustainable and 'bollo' work.
Indeed, the Church and the poor get shafted most times in the media.
The Rev Devon Dick is an author and Baptist pastor. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.