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'We are not fighting the media'

Published:Thursday | September 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Government has moved to clear the air about its position on the local media in the wake of growing unease following recent comments by Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

On Sunday, Golding used a political platform to suggest that sections of the media, and in particular The Gleaner, were working with other groups in pushing a propaganda line while ignoring the facts about the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips affair.

The comment attracted immediate criticisms with the Media Association Jamaica Ltd and the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) expressing concern about the implications for media workers.

Yesterday, minister with responsibility for information, Daryl Vaz, was adamant that the comments did not represent an attack on the media.

Vaz also rejected claims that the prime minister might have provided a signal to his supporters that sections of the media were enemies of the administration.

"Let me indicate clearly and make it clear to persons who support the Jamaica Labour Party and this Government, that we support nothing untoward against any media house or any media worker," Vaz told The Gleaner.

"We might take issue with a report but that does not translate into a fight with any media house and we remain willing to work with the entire media," added Vaz as he spoke with The Gleaner following the weekly post-Cabinet media briefing.

Committed to a free press

Vaz had earlier told the briefing that the Government has always been, and continues to be, committed to a free press in Jamaica.

"It is not in the interest of this or any other government to get into a quarrel or a fuss with the media, as freedom of the press is fundamental to democratic governance," added Vaz.

He argued that the Golding administration was only asking the media for a sense of fair play and balance.

"There have been some recent headlines in a section of the media that any objective observer would regard as sensational and misleading," Vaz charged.

According to Vaz, the administration continues to have the utmost respect for the local media and media practitioners and is prepared to meet to discuss any matter that is of concern.

He noted that the PAJ has already requested a meeting with Golding and said that request would be granted shortly.