Top Ranking Jamaica Rated #1 In Caribbean For Press Freedom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons. The Gleaner is an English-language, morning daily newspaper founded by two brothers, Jacob and Joshua de Cordova on 13 September 1834 in Kingston, Jamaica. It was originally known as the Daily Gleaner.
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Jamaica has moved up eight places in the latest World Press Freedom Index and is now the number-one ranked country in the Caribbean.

The country now ranks 24 out of 180 nations in the 2024 release of the World Press Freedom Index, with a score of 77.3. Jamaica was ranked 32 in last year’s index.

The latest Index was compiled by the French-based Reporters Without Borders, to coincide with World Press Freedom Day, which was observed on May 3.

St. Kitts and Nevis is not ranked independently, however itis included in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, which is ranked #68, with zero journalists killed and none imprisoned.

The ranking might be higher except that a photojournalist was killed in Barbados in 2020 when he arrived before the police at a murder scene. Prior to that OECS had been ranked at #44.

The ranking of OECS may also be negatively affected by the secrecy of the British Virgin Islands regarding international financial transactions.

Although Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has praised the country’s press freedom record and repeatedly stated his commitment to uphold it, Reporters Without Borders points out that he has also previously suggested that journalists do not have to stick to the facts or truth, and that a free press enables journalists to “take whatever stance they want”.

Early in the Covid-19 epidemic journalists in Jamaica complained that government restrictions were hampering the work of journalists at a time when the population desperately needed accurate information.

In an interview with Jamaica Information Service News, Jamaica’s Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister Robert Morgan, said the improved ranking is commendable, noting that work will continue to improve the country’s position.

“I think it’s commendable that Jamaica was able to move eight places over the last year with an improved score. We are now the number-one ranked country in the Caribbean. I think for an international organisation to look at Jamaica, which has just about 2.8 million people and has a better ranking and better score than several First World countries, that is something we should all, as Jamaicans, celebrate as a significant achievement,” the Minister said.

“All we can continue to do is to improve our ranking and work to ensure that media workers and the media, generally, have a very free and accessible avenue to do their jobs because the better the press freedom, the studies have shown, is the better the governance of the country, and that is something that we are very interested in,” he told JIS News.

Minister Morgan said the Government remains committed to strengthening press freedom and keeping the nation informed.

“We have, over the years, always maintained a very accessible approach to the media. We have reinvigorated post-Cabinet press briefings, we have improved the press room and we have been working with our various stakeholders,” he told JIS News.

The Minister urged the media to maintain their standards as well as the ability to reach people.

“With the advent of new media and social media, more persons are able to get more information. Media are also able to use different portals to reach more people in an unprecedented way, but the flip side of that is that you have the challenge of misinformation and disinformation, which is very dangerous and can undermine your society.

“I think that one of the things that the Government is very interested in is encouraging media to maintain standards, to improve standards and also to improve their ability to reach people, so that they can be a buffer against the risk of misinformation and disinformation,” the Minister said.

“So yes, while it is more positive that more people are able to access information, I think it is also important that we make sure that the information is verified and accurate to protect our citizens from the challenges of social media and new media,” he stressed.

The World Press Freedom Index compares the level of press freedom in more than 100 countries.

Source: Jamaica Information Service News.
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