Abka Fitz-Henley and his 'facts'
THE EDITOR, Sir:
First, let me thank Annmarie Silvera ('Man up to your error, Martin', Wednesday, December 10, 2014) for reading my column which has been appearing in The Gleaner for the last 27 years, during which time I have had no manly difficulty of apologising when warranted.
There are very clear conflicting statements between Abka Fitz-Henley's 'facts' and what he has described in his published response as "the propaganda supplied by the political directorate". And you are correct in noting that I was not present. Nor were you.
Huntley Medley, director of the Communication and Public Affairs Department of the OPM, in his press release on the incident said: "Another unfortunate situation again occurred during the briefing after several questions were asked by Mr Abka Fitz-Henley of Nationwide News and his questions were all allowed. On being asked to permit other journalists to pose their questions, he also refused to relinquish the cordless audio microphone, and I gave instructions to the audio technicians to mute the microphone."
"The reporter from one of the daily newspapers who did not ask any questions during Wednesday's briefing told me after the event," Medley further said, "that she was unable to ask any questions as the time was monopolised by the TVJ and Nationwide reporters."
Mr Fitz-Henley's subsequent account of the facts, having assumed a degree of responsibility and authority for managing the question-and-answer session at the briefing, according to his own published account, is that "every journalist present who wanted to speak had a fair chance. No one, therefore, was 'denied an opportunity', as has been alleged by Martin Henry."
Both Medley and Fitz-Henley have tendered the same newspaper reporter as star witness.
In a subsequent email to Gleaner personnel, Mr Fitz-Henley has written, "I welcome criticism, love it, it's one of the best ways to renew and reassess."
I have offered mine, and while there is still a contending of "facts" to be resolved, I can freely and sincerely apologise for any error of fact which may have influenced my opinion, part of which is that journalists who become the news, rather than simply reporting the news, are proper subjects for news commentary, and no one has all the facts.
Now that much of the dust has settled on the issue, it would be good to publicly hear from other players who will dare to go beyond expression of private opinion to have a public opinion like Abka, you, Miss Silvera, and me, despite the risks and challenges. And my apology, ma'am, for having kept you waiting.