‘The treatment by the media of this matter nauseates me…’
Words of the Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton as captured on a tape recorder left running by one of the evicted journalists from a press conference, Thursday, the 29th day of August, 2013.
Invited for ‘full coverage’ of Minister Hytlon’s presentation to a Jamaica Employers’ Federation meeting a few days, media representatives from CVM, TVJ, The Gleaner Company, JIS and Nationwide turned up.
The shades of grey around the logistics hub have been plenty. Ministers have been saying a lot but revealing very little. The penumbra of darkness around a major plank of the logistics hub enlarged with Environment Minister Robert Pickersgill disclosing that government is ‘seriously considering’ use of an environmental treasure – Goat Island.
Goat Island is part of a protected area known as Portland Bight Protected Area.
More than 72 hours after Minister’s Pickersgill returned from China from a well paid trip full funded by our taxes, Minister Pickersgill issued only a six paragraph release on Goat Island.
Pressed by me for an interview on the matter, Minister Pickersgill said ‘I stand by my release’. Never mind that the release did nothing to clear up anything reported in the press.
He then proceeded to tell me ‘send me the questions you want me to answer in an interview’.
There appears to be new variant appearing in journalism – pre-approved questions and all being requested all round. Ministers are refusing to be questioned on their areas of responsibility.
In the middle of the royal mess created by the Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson over the smoking regulations, his handlers told my news centre that he will not speak with us as we ‘practise ambush journalism’.
I could list many Ministers who have taken a similar position. ‘Nauseate’ is just another limb of the same tree that has been pointed to by these Ministers.
I have suggested before and reiterate here – it is time for media to stop being pushers of press releases and do the work to get answers to questions for the people. The recent disrespect to media must be a moment for us to take stock of how we do what we do.
No government must be comfortable with the scrutiny of media. Media must push back and push hard.
It has not gone unnoticed that the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller in the two years since she has been sworn in has not had a sit down with any serious media in Jamaica. It now appears that more and more of her team members are taking on the same posture.
Stand your ground media.