Tag Archive: journalism


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.

Personal Note

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.

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newspapers

New York Times

Washington Post

Jamaica Gleaner

Jamaica Observer

New York Times

Sunday Herald

They all are newspapers but they now have websites publishing their work online. Traditionally, one would wake up and if you work a nine to five job, you may have access to the office newspaper. For others, you might buy the newspaper on the streets to read. In a world where access to news is becoming more popular, are newspapers becoming outdated or can they still be relevant?

With the growing use of news networks both on radio and television, bloggers, and social networks, the news offered by newspapers are outdated. Most times they have to wait hours to print the next publication. By this time, the news has developed into something more than the initial issue. The burden is left up to journalists who should write news stories to still make the issue topical and news breaking.

We live in societies where the young are not interested in reading. But you might say how important are these sectors to the industry? They are important, ask any marketing manager of any firm and they will attest that the young in any market are driving innovativeness.  Where the younger generations are not interested in sitting and turning from page to page to view late news, newspapers must seek to become innovative to make the news accessible to people in ways that are more innovative. It is interesting that users of the internet will prefer to read online articles than skip pages of a newspaper.

Journalists are given the responsibility to inform the general public of what’s happening in the society. There duties are even more important in societies where there is a free market in the media industry. Journalists try to inspire, persuade and change opinions in their work. Through this, newspapers have added features to their package to make it more appealing. Newspaper features include: editorials, opinion pages, and different aspects which are targeted to entertainment and social activities. This adds some relevance to the product.

Newspapers have their relevance in societies to inform and to provide serious journalism. For those who opt not to use the internet surely the newspaper is a definite alternative to source breaking and topical news. However, if newspapers are to remain open for business in the near future they must become more aware of the changes in technology.

They will become outdated if they do not change how they operate business. Newspapers internationally are becoming more than ever like a television network providing current breaking news stories. Newspaper companies should be seeking to have subscribers to their service where breaking news can be emailed and send to blackberries and cell-phones. This will make their service competitive and add relevance to their work. Newspaper companies should now become innovative to remain relevant or become outdated while technologies increase.

Corve DaCosta

Earlier this week, I wrote an article responding to an article that bashed a recent condom campaign in Jamaica. Today, my response was published in The Gleaner, a local Jamaican paper.

Have a read.

Jamaica Gleaner News – Embracing sex education – Letters – Wednesday | June 10, 2009

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