Source: Jamaica Gleaner
The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) is calling for the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) to revamp its media protocols.
The call comes amid what the PAJ says are several incidents of confusion involving the police and media practitioners on nomination day.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the ECJ to ensure that the democratic processes on nomination and election days take place in a way that restricts the possibility of spread of COVID-19,” said PAJ President George Davis in a statement.
“However, the experience of nomination day has shown the right balance has not been struck between COVID restrictions and allowing the media to work,” he added.
It was noted that the ECJ had indicated in a media protocol document that members of the media will be allowed on the compound of nomination centres, however, they will not be permitted to enter the building and that a designated area will be identified for photo opportunities and interviews.
However, the PAJ points out that the purpose of nomination day coverage is to witness the democratic nomination of candidates.
Reports to the PAJ are that media practitioners sought access to the centres to get photographs and footage of the candidates being nominated but were unable to do so due to the locations of the designated areas.
This was facilitated in some cases where media workers entered the centres with permission, the PAJ said.
In other cases, according to the association, media workers appeared to have entered the centres without permission.
The association says it does not condone and would not advise the flouting of government guidelines as a matter of course.
The PAJ says, however, that the events of today were triggered by a protocol that prevented observation of the democratic process.
“The confusion today is unfortunate and is likely to be repeated on election day if the problems encountered are not resolved,” said Davis.
“It is important in a democratic society for these processes to be observed and documented by the press. It is also critical that public health concerns in the current pandemic must be addressed. However, we are confident that, with discussion, an effective compromise can be reached,” he added.
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