KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday August 15, 2018 – Prime Minister Andrew Holness says his government will be launching a commission shortly to examine and find solutions to violence in Jamaica.
And he said that the media will be a major stakeholder in the process.
“It is not a discussion for politicians solely to have; it is a national discussion. When I announce this commission, I am certain that we will be inviting members of the press association and the media association to participate to help us to come to a solution to this issue of violence,” he said as he addressed the opening ceremony for the 49th Annual General Assembly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) on Monday.
He implored the Jamaican media to be responsible in how it promotes, projects, produces and publicises content that could in any way support violence.
Holness stressed that the government “has to increase its footprint and presence in ensuring that there are positive messages in a free media” as an effective way of dealing with violence.
“There has to be a kind of sit-down now to figure out how it is that we are going to get our positive messages out there, whilst ensuring that your media houses and your publishing houses remain viable,” he said.
At the same time, the Prime Minister said the government is committed to doing its part to ensure freedom of press, noting that Jamaica ranks sixth in the world in terms of press freedom.
He pointed to the passage of significant legislation in this regard, citing reform of the Defamation Act, and access to information and whistle-blower laws, and the Data Protection Act which is now being discussed in Parliament.
“We need the free press more than ever,” Holness said, particularly in the age of social media which, he noted, is rife with “fake news and alternative facts”.
The Jamaican leader lamented that technology is enabling persons to create fake identities “and rapidly spread false information to unsuspecting consumers. There is no filter, there is no fact check, there is no editor, there is no consideration of the public good.”
“The best protection from the dangers of social media is to have a free press that is strong in ferreting out the truth. I depend on our press to ensure that whatever false information is spread in social media, that they, in some point in time, will use their editorial abilities, their research abilities to correct false narrative that is spread in social media,” Holness said.