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PAJ president promises more investigative training for journalists

Published:Sunday | November 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

Admitting that not enough investigative stories are being produced by local journalists, president of the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), George Davis, has pledged to create opportunities for media practitioners to expand investigative abilities.

Davis was speaking with The Gleaner yesterday at a special service at Tarrant Baptist Church in St Andrew, which kicked off activities for National Journalism Week 2018, which will end this Saturday.

The president pointed out that the busy schedules of local journalists also prevented them from turning out a plethora of investigative pieces.

"It is a common criticism to say the press doesn't do investigative journalism in Jamaica. That is not true. Most investigative pieces stem from whistle-blowers who share information with journalists, who will then take it further in order to connect the dots to the data," Davis pointed out.

"The staff complement at many media houses is so limited that the journalists who are expected to use weeks and months to dig out a story are the same journalists that are called upon by their editor to produce something for the bulletin every day, whether it be newspaper or electronic. At BBC, CNN or The Associated Press, a journalist can be working on one story for five months and that is the only thing he or she would be doing." Davis highlighted.

He said that because Jamaica's jurisdiction is different from others, persons are slower to leak information to journalists.

"Jamaica's jurisdiction is slightly different. You would have people in government ministries, for example, who know things are happening that shouldn't be. Do they share this information with journalists? No, they don't. That makes it difficult for journalists to go inside the bowels of that government ministry to find the information to then pursue an investigative story."

Davis also conceded that some journalists sometimes lacked the skill to take basic information and connect the dots. "That is why the commitment of the executive that I am a part of is to offer more training opportunities to our members to be able to make that dot connection," he said.

In his sermon, Pastor Jeffrey Shuttleworth said that the press has a duty to God and to citizens and reminded the congregation that the free flow of information is essential to maintaining democracy.