Dear Prime Minister Bruce Golding,
In the event that you are unaware of a UK production for TV entitled “The Secret Caribbean”, I feel the need to bring this divisive and damning programme for Jamaicans and Jamaica to your attention. The presenter, a renowned UK journalist from Trinidad, Sir Trevor McDonald, visited several islands in the Caribbean on behalf of ITV1 and with the apparent knowledge of Jamaica’s public relations agency in the UK, McCluskey International. I assume, this was to promote the lesser known aspects of the islands.
This week’s episode began by showing the luxury and opulence of islands in the Bahamas owned by David Copperfield, describing how beautiful it would be to spend a week there. Afterwards, and this is the most awful part, he visited Jamaica where the programme portrayed our beautiful island as a blood soaked, impoverished, unemployable den of iniquity. Following this assassination of the Jamaican people he proceeded to Barbados where the programme once again renewed its theme of luxury and opulence by showing their top hotel, their largest land developer and several yachts in a new marina.
As unfortunate and damaging as this episode is to Jamaica, and as easy as it is to lash out at Sir Trevor and his colleagues, my questions are “What part did the Jamaican authorities play or fail to play in all of this? Who authorised the work permits for the film crew? Who authorised the access to the women’s prison? Who failed to properly supervise the whole event in the interest of our tourist industry?” These questions must be answered and the guilty must be held to account. There is an old saying that says “Fool me once shame on you, Fool me twice shame on me”. Maybe the authorities should consider this when thinking of past disasters such as Jamaica ER, Ross Kemp on Gangs and others.
May I humbly suggest in the interest of Jamaican pride, that the Government and responsible Ministries consider a few simple precautions before granting foreign nationals the tools needed to damage our fair land.
1. Question journalists as to the intentions and motives associated with their request to film, ascertain where they intend to film and make it clear that an unbalanced view will not be tolerated.
2. Assign a representative from the Jamaican authorities to accompany the film crew at all times (paid for by the company requesting permission to film) this must not be optional as damage to our tourist industry may be irreparable!
3.We should as a nation encourage our own film makers in promoting our beautiful island whether it be through documentary, websites, face book, you-tube or others. It has become painfully evident that we cannot sit back and allow others to promote our country for free as “nu ting free nu good”.
FFBJ is appealing to the Jamaican Authorities, independent documentary and movie makers to produce top quality, balanced, “homemade” programmes for the international market. These programmes can start by depicting all things good and great about JA.
In respect of crime and violence and civil liberty issues, the Jamaican authorities, non-governmental organizations (including human rights organizations) must join forces to demonstrate to the ordinary people of Jamaica and the international community that the country is ready, willing and able to address these issues, by producing open and transparent documentary programmes about progress on a regular basis.
Finally do not be afraid to refuse permission to any film makers whose motives may be deemed contrary to the interest of Jamaica
On behalf of Facilitators for a Better Jamaica (FFBJ)
Editor’s note: Abeng News Magazine does not support fettering of the Press/media while doing their legitimate duties. While the Press/media are not above criticism and do make errors in judgement or reportage, we do not support encumberment of media workers.
About Mark Lee
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[…] the heels of a less-than-flattering U.K. documentary on Jamaica, Abeng News Magazine publishes one reader's view “that the Government…consider a few simple precautions […]
Pursuing totalitarian policies is backward and does nothing to enhance the country. The best way to not have your reputation damaged is to have a clean one in the first place.
If there are negatives in the country and they are highlighted, the focus should be on the genesis of the negatives not on the persons who point them out.
Of course if untrue statements were made the option of libel can be pursued in a court. If however the goal is to achieve what is the status quo in Iran, then the suggestions mentioned are excellent.
On the one hand, I do realize that reporters in the UK always ‘seem’ to have a mission to destroy the image of Jamaica. When I heard about the documentary, I knew exactly what aspect of Jamaica would be shown, so I was not at all surprised or shocked.
On the other hand, Jamaicans ‘mostly’ have themselves to blame. If I am correct, the island has the highest murder rate in the Caribbean. It even has a higher murder rate than the whole of the UK. Jamaica is only a small country with less than a 3 million population. Yet it has a higher murder rate than a country of nearly 60 million.
In London, Jamaicans (including the majority who are not involved with any crime) have a reputation of being extremely quick to anger and hot tempered. Or just straight mad. Jamaicans argue that it’s just a stereotype. But the stereotype is real and it comes from real people’s daily experiences.
I agree with Oliver Hunter that any attempts to silence or ‘balance’ the reporting will lead Jamaica in the wrong direction.
As a Jamaican, I would love to see more positive aspects of Jamaica ‘sold’ to the world. However, the world is not ‘stupid’. Jamaicans also live outside of Jamaica and create reputations regardless of TV reporting.
The truth is that the ‘negative’ stories sell. A reporter will have no credibility if he went to a ‘peaceful’ country with a murder rate of one per year and tried to ‘invent’ the country as violent and a ‘blood zone’.
Negative reporters will target Jamaica because it has exactly what they are looking for.
It is hoped that the hue and cry over the McDonald documentary will subside and Jamaicans will come to their senses. The video can do no more damage to us than we have already done to ourselves. We have cried foul each time an attempt is made to expose the gangrenous aspects of Jamaican society, thinking our outrage bespeaks patriotism and concern for our precious tourism product. So instead of demanding that our elected officials address the nation’s social ills, we just allowed them to continue building more and more all-inclusives in the interest of the tourists. Nothing was done in the interest of the nation’s impoverished majority. So while we covered for the sins of our leaders, we allowed corruption to take hold of every aspect of Jamaican life.
Now that the British government has imposed sanctions on Jamaican nationals in the form of harsher immigration restrictions, more cries of outrage are to be expected. Some of us will cry victimization, hurl epithets at the Brits, and tell them to take the plank out of their own eye before they attempt to remove the mote from ours. Others, like Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs Anthony Hylton, will continue to affirm that it is only a minority that is giving us a bad name, and that the majority of Jamaicans are peaceful and law-abiding. We persist in pretending, as usual, that our reputation for crime and overwhelming corruption is hidden from world view, and castigate those we believe to be exposing our dirty undergarments. We still believe that if we focus on the positives, the negatives will take care of themselves, and that all it takes is to screen foreign journalists and limit their access to those areas and citizens who live in abject poverty and squalor. Welcome to North Korea.
Pity that it may have to take foreigners to embarrass us into demanding good governance from shameless, uncaring and incompetent leaders.