For many people who have visited or have heard of Jamaica, some of their thoughts are positive while others are negative. Jamaica is a wonderful paradise when you get to appreciate all the interesting scenes and places the island has to offer. However, just like many other countries around the world, we all have our issues. The USA has to deal with a recession; Cubans have to face living in a communist state. Well, Jamaicans face a plethora of issues that our previous leaders and present ones have all failed to correct. Not only do we face a recession like most countries but we encounter high levels of criminality daily, corruption in the public sector including politicians, average literacy rate, low productivity, high unemployment, the acceptance of illegal activities, a dying media that is in need of high journalistic standards and the list goes on.
As you may know Africans from the West Cost of Africa were shipped against their will to the Caribbean region. History reminds us that the most rebellious of the tribes came to Jamaica. This is one theory that is used to interpret our high crime levels over the years which continues today. Although politicians played a major role in the distribution of guns early on they have either failed to correct our crime situation or cannot right the issue of crime.
Jamaica is recognized as a third world country and it would appear that everything we do reminds us that we are in fact a developing country. Journalists in Jamaica are trained by a local media school at the University of the West Indies (UWI) called Caribbean Institute of Media and Communications (CARIMAC). In a recent column in the Jamaica Gleaner Carolyn Cooper who heads the department of Literary and Cultural Studies at UWI recently stated that the University of the West Indies is the only ‘real, real’ university here in Jamaica. For those who may not understand what she alluded to, she means the University of the West Indies is the only local institution that should be regarded at a ‘university’ bearing in mind we have many.
With a high crime rate like ours the newscasts are filled with stories reporting criminal activities. Moreover television newscasts go beyond the call of duty to record and report the bloody images not only in print but those aired on television. In recent times there have been attempts to have news agencies in Jamaica become more vigilant in how they report stories surrounding the topic of crime and violence since children, families and adults are all exposed.
For the past week in Jamaica there is an interesting discussion on whether a newscast on television went overboard in showing graphic images of a Rastafarian man chopping a cab driver for $20.00 (Jamaican) equivalent to $0.23 cents (American) and $0.24 cent (Canadian). The incident is not only shown once but is repeated more than three times in the news item. Although the presenter warned viewers of the graphic images in the story they should have shown more responsibility, compassion and journalistic character.
With the levels of crime and violence in Jamaica, some Jamaicans would appreciate if newscasts ignore some of the heinous incidents that happen daily. Personally, I do not know how comforting or ideal this would be but journalists would not agree with that position. Journalists should report on what is important to the society. This is not the first time this news agency has shown graphic images of incidents not fit for airplay. They are creating a bad name for themselves while degrading journalistic standards. I do agree that these incidents do happen (a clip slips through the cracks) but when it becomes a trend, viewers will stop taking you seriously. The media in Jamaica does not only suffer from low standards of journalism but we are out of control in airing outrageous lyrics on the airwaves. That is a whole other issue for another piece.
Jamaicans and Snitching
What is also startling in this story is how Jamaicans respond to violent incidents. In this video you can hear a woman shouting the man’s name “Bobby”. However, if you look carefully you will notice that people are not shocked or moved by what is taking place. No one rushes to call the police or 911, 811 or 119 here in Jamaica. They are going about their business as usual. Even moments after this incident takes place, eyewitnesses claimed they did not see anything. This is the reality Jamaicans live in. If they speak out about violent acts, they will be hunted down like hawks and killed for sharing information. It is not surprising that with a police station 15 feet away they were not aware of this incident till hours after. It is so sad living here.
I contemplated for long placing that horrific video on this blog. I thought about it and I am placing the video below. This video contains graphic images of a man chopping an innocent cab driver. After receiving multiple chop wounds the cab driver later drives his car to a nearby hospital where he was admitted in critical conditions. The driver is still alive today with the Rastafarian in police custody who was found with a bald head. This video grossed me out completely and has the ability to make you cringe in your seat. Just by looking at the screen shot below tells how graphic this gets.