Split over newsmaker of the year - Phillips, Azan, Holness, Tessanne, Bolt among 2013 choices by journalists

Published: Sunday | December 29, 2013 Comments 0
Songbird Tessanne Chin with her winning trophy. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Songbird Tessanne Chin with her winning trophy. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
The thrill of victory is evident on the face of Andrew Holness as he is hugged by a supporter after he staved off a challenge from Audley Shaw. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
The thrill of victory is evident on the face of Andrew Holness as he is hugged by a supporter after he staved off a challenge from Audley Shaw. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Member of Parliament Richard Azan. - File
Member of Parliament Richard Azan. - File

Correction & Clarification

In a story headline ‘Split over newsmaker of the year ’in The Gleaner of Sunday, December 29, 2013 the Argentine-born Pope Francis was referred to as Brazilian. We regret this error.


Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

From Vybz Kartel to Tessanne Chin, from Dr Peter Phillips to Andrew Holness, from Usain Bolt to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 2013 was not short of colourful personalities to put on the front pages and steal the media headlines.

Overseas, the prestigious TIME magazine named the Argentine, Pope Francis, as its person of the year for 2013, while many argued that Edward Snowden, the man who leaked United States spying information, should have been the winner.

In Jamaica, there is no shortage of views and leading media personalities have found little common ground on the chief newsmaker this year.

Publisher and editor of the Western Mirror, Member of Parliament Lloyd B. Smith, selected his parliamentary and party colleague Dr Peter Phillips.

"I would say Peter Phillips, the minister of finance and planning. I think because of the economy and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal, and the various pieces of legislation and other government actions being announced and pursued," said Smith.

"Clearly, he was constantly in the minds of many persons with respect to how he was handling that portfolio," added Smith, as he noted that the decisions from Phillips' ministry will impact the entire country.

Second vote for Phillips

Editor of the North Coast Times and managing editor of IRIE FM, Franklyn McKnight, also selected Dr Phillips.

"The most noteworthy of the public officials in the news was Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips. I think he grew in the job and became more mature in it. You didn't hear him often but you get the sense he is handling the portfolio," said McKnight.

But Phillips is not a clear winner for the veteran journalist.

"To me, the person who made the news more, was just in the news a lot, was Ronald Thwaites (education minister). But I think the person who should have been in the news most was Peter Bunting. To me, crime was the story of the 2013. The de facto newsmaker is Bunting," explained McKnight.

The 2013 Press Association of Jamaica Journalist of the Year, Dionne Jackson-Miller, selected Opposition Leader Andrew Holness as her newsmaker of the year.

"I think this was not just because of the leadership challenge, but the events surrounding it which allowed Jamaicans to begin to get a much clearer picture of Mr Holness as a leader," Jackson-Miller told The Sunday Gleaner.

According to Jackson-Miller, the November 2013 leadership campaign in which Holness was challenged by Audley Shaw and won, "allowed Jamaicans a chance to start to assess his claim of transformational politics in relation to his own colleagues, and see how he leads in trying circumstances".

"Importantly, the fact that he asked for, and used the undated Senate resignation letters, helped people to start to assess and understand a little better how he sees the political process and how he uses power.

"I think 2013 has been the year we have seen the outlines of the picture of Andrew Holness begin to be filled in," stated Jackson-Miller, who is an attorney-at-law and host of Radio Jamaica's 'Beyond the Headlines' and TVJ's 'All Angles'.

Co-host of the morning public affairs programme 'This Morning' on Nationwide Radio, attorney-at-law Emily Crooks, said the man caught in the centre of the Spaldings Market controversy, Member of Parliament for North West Clarendon Richard Azan, is her choice.

"Richard Azan - from the Spaldings Market shop controversy to resignation, to probe, to Office of the Contractor General findings, to Director of Public Prosecution's decision not to charge, to reinstatement," said Crooks, who listed several other major newsmakers for the year.

"This episode occupied public discourse for a very long time, and rightly so. For the people in Spaldings, some of them saw it as a bread-and-butter issue - there was a need and Azan provided. For others, horse and carriage ran through governance and accountability - a new low."

Crook's co-host Naomi Francis declared songbird Tessanne Chin not only her choice, but her voice.

"My number one person of the year has been truly outstanding. There are so many lessons to be learned from what this individual sought to accomplish ... and finally did. My person of the year is Tessanne Chin! Her journey was seen by millions and served as a singular point of departure in which her triumph uplifted all Jamaicans," stated Francis.

According to Francis, Chin took the entire Jamaica before millions of people, and even helped change perceptions about our music, our culture and our people.

Other media personalities mentioned retired Senior Superintendent of Police Radcliffe Lewis - who headed the Traffic portfolio, "and appeared omnipresent in managing that".

Adijah 'Vybz Kartel' Palmer - who even from behind the bars occupied space in daily newscasts - and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller also received mention.

Usain Bolt was legendary on the track and, like Tessanne Chin, with great ambassadorial skills took the Jamaican brand all over the world.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was also seen as cementing her place in Jamaica's sporting history.

The 2013 Rhodes Scholar Timar Jackson was also mentioned among the major newsmakers.

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