The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), the umbrella organisation of journalists here, yesterday slapped Prime Minister Andrew Holness for his “failure” to hold press briefings since assuming office in February this year.
PAJ President Dionne Jackson Miller, in her letter to the prime minister, urged Mr Holness, not ordinarily known to be media-shy, to talk more with newsmen in the new year for the benefit of the public.
“The PAJ stressed that it was very concerned about media access to ministers of government, and particularly to Mr Holness as prime minister,” Jackson Miller said in a press statement.
The organisation had similar complaints against the previous prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, accusing her of not speaking directly to the press for most of the time she was prime minister between January 2012 and February 2016.
But Jackson Miller acknowledged that Holness had given several interviews to local media houses since assuming office, including one to her, and the RJR Communications Group for which she works.
“However, the PAJ president noted that although these interviews are important they are necessarily selective and exclude many reporters and media houses, and therefore do not provide the kind of broad-based access to media which press conferences do,” the statement said.
“The PAJ noted that Mr Holness, since assuming office in March, had yet to hold a comprehensive press briefing in the capacity of prime minister, which all media representatives could attend and ask him a range of questions, for the benefit of the public. The PAJ urged Mr Holness to remedy this deficiency as early as possible in the new year, and to make these briefings a regular staple on his schedule,” it said.
The PAJ said its letter has been acknowledged by the Office of the Prime Minister, with a commitment to respond to the concerns expressed at the earliest possible time.