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PNP disappointed with PAJ’s stance on gen sec’s comments

PEOPLE’S NATIONAL Party (PNP) President Mark Golding yesterday outlined his disappointment in the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) over what he has labelled the journalism body’s “reprehensible” stance against comments made by party general secretary Dr Dayton Campbell.

Golding was leading a PNP delegation that took part in a Gleaner Editors’ Forum at the newspaper’s North Street, Kingston, offices.

The PNP officials were speaking with Gleaner editors and reporters ahead of its 85th annual conference, which is set to take place at the National Arena from September 15-17.

PAJ President Milton Walker described Campbell’s utterances as irresponsible and dangerous.

Speaking at a constituency conference over the weekend, Campbell referred to the media outlet as an incubator for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and named former journalists at the entity who are now working in Government or the public sector.

In his first public reaction to the PAJ statement, Golding defended Campbell, saying: “I think that was fair comment. I think that many, many Jamaicans, if not most, do regard that particular station as strongly biased towards the JLP.”

“When a media house has been playing the role it has been playing, supporting the Government ... so for him to say what he said is an important exercise of freedom of speech, and the PAJ ought to be defending him, not castigating him and telling him to retract. I was very disappointed in the PAJ at what I regard as a fairly disingenuous response,” Golding said.

Campbell, when asked by The Gleaner if he would apologise or retract the comment, said he would not apologise for speaking the truth.

The PNP general secretary contended that no journalist could say they had ever had an unpleasant interaction with him.

At the same time, he pointed to Juliet Cuthbert Flynn and Everald Warmington as members of Parliament from the government side who have had tense run-ins with members of the media.

“What I said was ‘Look at how that radio station carries the news. Just listen to their programmes’. And the truth is, since I made that comment, persons in the media space say they don’t understand how they operate like that.

Campbell said the PAJ – though not being a regulatory body for the broadcast entity – should bear in mind the truth to which he spoke.

Campbell said he was not making a broad statement against all media houses.

Adding her voice to the discussion, Senator Donna Scott-Mottley questioned whether “activist journalists” ought to declare up front what their biases are.

“When Abka Fitz Henley was brought into the Senate, it took some people by surprise because it’s almost as though he walked through a door labelled journalist and entered a door called politics,” Scott-Mottley said.

Party Chairman Angela Brown-Burke said the PNP has to defend the people of Jamaica from those who want to “down-press” them.

“I think that we also have to understand that as a political party, we have a responsibility to call out things that we see happening that are not right,” Brown-Burke said.

She said there are some truths that are going to be uncomfortable and about which people are going to cry foul.

The PNP officials said, however, that it was never their intention to traumatise any young journalist working with the media entity.