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PAJ urges journalists to tightly guard notes, recordings

Published:Friday | July 26, 2013 | 12:00 AM

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) yesterday sought to remind journalists of its stance regarding the dissemination of their work.

PAJ president, Jenni Campbell, in a release yesterday, stated that except for threat to life or the issuing of a court order, journalists should not hand over notes or recordings to parties outside of their professional supervision.

"The commitment of journalists is to the public, and we must use every opportunity to ask important questions without fear or favour," Campbell said in the statement.

"The information relayed must stand up to professional scrutiny."

The call came after the editorial management of Television Jamaica (TVJ) complained in a statement on Wednesday that attorney-at-law Milton Samuda demanded a video recording of a Monday interview with his clients, Olympians Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson.

The statement indicated that the TVJ reporter handed over the tape to the athletes' lawyer and that the tape was returned on Wednesday with the interview erased. An edited version of the interview was later provided to the television station.

select journalists

The interview had been granted to select journalists, including journalists from The Gleaner, in light of the sprinters' positive tests for a banned stimulant during the Jamaica Athletics Adminis-trative Association's 2013 National Senior Championships in June.

It is believed the substance was in supplements the athletes were taking. But when certain questions were raised about supplements, Samuda reportedly objected, saying the sprinters had not previously agreed to answer those questions.

Samuda, who is also chairman of TVJ and a director of Radio Jamaica, is said to have made the request and the video was handed over.

A recording by the Gleaner photographer present was also erased on request.

Campbell expressed doubt the now-edited recording would meet the PAJ's "standard of fairness and balance". She asked Samuda to clearly state his position in what she says appears to be a conflict of interest.

The Gleaner sought a response from Samuda last night, however, calls to his cell phone went to voicemail.