“Investigative journalism is very, very expensive”

“Investigative journalism is very, very expensive.” 18 Degrees North founder Zahra Burton speaks to third-year journalism students at University of Technology. Students wanted to give her a vote of thanks at the end. Thanks, Zahra for sharing your knowledge, wisdom and valuable experience.

Crime to be reduced!

Fatal shootings by the police are expected to be reduced with the handing over of 3,500 non-lethal kits to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) yesterday, a donation from the Embassy of the United States of America.

This would be an example of what not to do in a lead that I would show to my students. I would actually refer to this as a press release rather than a news story. If this story were about a kitten that walked from Spanish Town to Montego Bay in search of his owner, or the largest coconut in Jamaica, I would welcome a fluff piece. But when it comes to national security and the use of potentially deadly weapons (mace can be fatal), fluff pieces are dangerous. Reporters here seem to forget that they are performing a public service, upholding a pillar of democracy, which is unfortunate.

As usual, more questions than answers with this Jamaica Gleaner story.

  • Why will fatal shootings be reduced?
  • What is a “non-lethal kit”?
  • Will this create more risk to police officers?
  • What kind of training do they receive?
  • “Non-lethal kits” are already in use- how much have fatal shootings been reduced?
  • How does the use of these kits fit in with the overall crime reduction strategy?
  • Why did the Embassy decide to make this donation?
  • Will police officers still carry guns? How do they make the decision on how to protect themselves?

I could go on. If only the media were doing their job…

Access to Information- Jamaica

Last week in class, I asked the students if anyone had ever filed an Access to Information Request with the government. No hands raised. I told them a little bit about my experience with the system. It was mixed. For some requests, the response was speedy. For another group of requests, I have yet to have a response from almost two years ago. This is in contravention with the 30-day law, via the Access to Information Act.

I encouraged the students to file requests, although most said they did not know how. One student pointed out that people don’t really know or understand much about this fundamental right. In this light, Jamaicans for Justice has made this short clip about Access to Information in JA. Check it out.

“How the Language of Jamaica Became Mainstream”

This article is a couple of weeks old, but it is a lovely piece on the cultural prevalence of Patois in Canada and North America. It is timely for me, as I start teaching a journalism class at the University of Technology. One of the assignments involves writing news stories. When discussing this assignment, somehow it came up as to whether or not they can write in Patois. I encouraged them to do so. After all, it is a language and should be Jamaica’s official language.

Check it out here.