An editorial from Jamaica’s Observer on the occasion of Lester Holt being named host of NBC Nightly News in the USA.
As we reflected last month during World Press Freedom Day celebrations, it is safe to say that journalists are universally accepted as indispensable to the democracy and development of every country. Thankfully, that has been the prevailing view in Jamaica, where media professionals are recognised for their work.
At the risk of sounding incestuous, we believe that Jamaican journalists, in the main, have produced credible and sometimes outstanding work both in Jamaica and in countries where they ply their trade overseas. Many of our top journalists worked overseas after starting in Jamaica, and many who achieved success abroad returned to give service in Jamaica.
Several of them broke the colour barrier in foreign media. Among the earliest was Una Marson, who worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) during World War II after writing for Public Opinion in Jamaica. She pioneered the BBC radio series Caribbean Voices, which showcased the work of Caribbean authors in their formative years, including Messrs V S Naipaul, Samuel Selvon, George Lamming, and Derek Walcott.
Many Jamaicans sharpened their skills at the BBC, including the likes of Mr Dwight Whylie, the first black radio announcer hired by the BBC. Some left the Corporation to serve in other capacities: Mr Whylie was general manager of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC); Mr A E T Henry became the first head of the Government Public Relations Office (forerunner of the Jamaica Information Service), and Mr Anthony Abrahams, the first black TV reporter at the BBC went on to lead the Jamaica Tourist Broad and be minister of tourism; and more recently, Mr Hugh Crosskill who worked for the BBC Caribbean Service.
Distinguished Jamaican-born photographer Mr Michel du Cille died while covering Ebola in Liberia. He was photo editor of the Washington Post (1988-2005) and his outstanding work was recognised by being awarded three Pulitzers prizes.
The tradition of Jamaicans in global media continues with people like Mr Darren Jordon on Al Jazeera. He was born in London of Jamaican parents and served eight years as a captain in the Jamaica Defence Force and was part of the 1983 US-led invasion of Grenada.
Apart from doing Jamaica proud by their accomplishments, they helped to promote our country. Several television personalities of Jamaican parents have brought crews to film on the island, and many others have worked unseen in Reuters and other wire services.
We note with pride that Mr Lester Holt, whose maternal grandparents came from Jamaica, visited the island with his mother to connect to his roots (“To Jamaica with Mom”) and has been named the anchor of NBC Nightly News, replacing the discredited Brian Williams. He is the first person of colour to be news anchor on one of the three major US networks.
Let us pay tribute to the Jamaicans who have worked in international media and recognise them for their outstanding achievements.
For the original report go to http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Saluting-Jamaicans-who-have-done-well-in-international-media_19152212