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Bishop calls for free press with guts

Published:Saturday | May 4, 2013 | 12:00 AM

ANGLICAN BISHOP of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Rt Rev Dr Howard Gregory, is suggesting that the media have more to offer.

"While we expect the media to be truthful in reflecting what is happening in our midst, I submit that the journalistic community has a significant role to play in the shaping of our society," he said. Gregory said the view that media only reflect what is going on is a cop-out.

"If the journalistic community is simply going to reflect the dynamics and values of society, then we are in deep trouble." Speaking at the World Press Freedom Day Forum at The Knutsford Court Hotel on Thursday, Bishop Gregory said a spirit of individualism is permeating societies and institutions of governance and commerce are taking more control over citizens' lives. He said there seems to be no exploration of the values which are informing the decisions being made and the extent they influence society's choices.

"It seems to me it will take a free press with guts, as well as institutions of civil society to educate the population and expose these areas of our national life," he said.

bureaucracy blocking growth

He noted the ineffective bureaucratic system that hinders the country's growth.

"I believe our journalists can help us through persistent exposure to transform the system that has become an albatross around the neck of our people and our productive abilities." He acknowledged there were factors seeking to muzzle the press but understood the rights of citizens to be protected from defamation.

"It does appear that there are situations in which the threat of prosecution can serve to restrain the media," he said. "I am also aware of the fact that the ownership of the press and various media outlets raise serious questions regarding the level of bias and sectional interests which these may represent."