PAJ welcomes resumption of Post-Cabinet press briefing but points to concerns

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The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has welcomed an announcement that the Andrew Holness led administration will be resuming press briefings as of next Wednesday.
However, the media association says several issues remain and these must be addressed by the administration.
In a joint statement issued by the PAJ and senior editors, it was noted that while press briefings were being held last year and the year before, “they were not regular, and would sometimes not be held for weeks at a time.”
“We therefore call for the administration to commit to holding these briefings regularly, and preferably to schedule the briefings for a fixed day and time every week, and as soon as possible after the Cabinet meetings, so that media houses are able to properly deploy their reporters,” the statement noted.
Another concern follows the announcement that the administration is reviewing the format of the briefings.
“We regard the format to have been adequate for the purpose, and are particularly concerned about the prospect that the briefings could be led by a non-Cabinet government spokesperson, who may not have authority to answer questions on certain issues emanating from Cabinet.”
The joint statement added that although social media is a convenient way for the government to get its message out “we strongly reject the assertion by Information Minister Senator Ruel Reid that social media in any way serves as a substitute for interaction with the press.”
“We also reject the idea posited by the Information Minister in that same interview that a quarterly press briefing by the Prime Minister, which is necessarily limited in time, can in any way be a substitute for a weekly press briefing, on matters of concern that arise from time to time.”
The PAJ also voiced concern about the administration’s policy of generally limiting media interviews with the Prime Minister to one day a year, the so-called “Media Day”.
“Our media houses have all put in requests to the Office of the Prime Minister over the past two years, and the general approach of the OPM in channeling all requests to this one day of the year has resulted in limiting rather than increasing access to the Prime Minister.
In a news release on Thursday, Information Minister Ruel Reid said Cabinet on Monday discussed the importance of reviewing the current framework of the weekly press briefings to ensure that the structures for engagement are appropriate in the context of an evolving media landscape and recognising the importance of providing information to the media fraternity.
“Cabinet re-stated its commitment to providing timely information to the public through various media, including regular engagement with journalists. It was therefore confirmed that while adjustments to the approach are being fine-tuned, the Minister responsible for Information, Senator Ruel Reid, will resume briefings related to Cabinet matters, as early as July 11.”

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