Regional journalists need to focus more on health, wellness topics
September 6, 2013

Regional journalists need to focus more on health, wellness topics

A call has been made for regional journalists to focus on health related topics as much as, or more than, they do on other issues.{{more}}

Speakers at the Jennifer Jones Barbados/OECS Media Health Awards last Saturday night in Grenada,said that there is a need for more attentionto be paid to subjects pertaining to health and wellness in the region, as opposed to politics and crime.

Grenada’s health minister Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen told the audience at the Grenada Trade Centre that it was a welcome sight to see media practitioners excited about health, since that area was hardly given any attention in most newscasts.

“I cannot say that I am always impressed by the interest I see of the media in health issues,” the Minister said during her feature address.

“Some have been very interested, some have been moderately interested, some have been not interested at all. How often does health make the front pages in our newspapers, or the news headlines on the television, or on the radio?

“Do you think health has been given enough attention as it deserves in our Grenadian community in our Caribbean community as well as in the world community?”

Modeste-Curwen said that as health minister, she would play her part by partnering with the relevant organizations so that a healthier, more productive, and happier nation and region would result.

Calls for more health news were also made by Rawle Nelson, president of the OECS Media Network on Health. He agreed that more emphasis needs to be placed on health issues, and called on journalists to get more serious on health matters.

“Today, it’s very alarming and very embarrassing that most of the Caribbean journalists are more interested in crime stories and political stories. There is more to journalism than covering crime and politics, and too many times there is focus on crime and politics, as if that is the only thing that makes news.

“It has thus created an impression that all media people can do is give negative news.

“While politics makes the news, it’s not the only thing that should be in our newspapers or radio and television newscasts.

“Health builds social and economic growth…. HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and cancer will soon take the number one priority, because people are dying rapidly…. That is why we keep pushing the issue of health journalism in the region,” Nelson noted.

Nelson said that Jones, who died at age 37, was a member of the Network, and made a significant contribution to health journalism, prior to her death in 2010, hence the reason the award was named in her honour.

The deceased Grenadian journalist received a number of regional and international awards, individually, and as a member of the organization.

Hailed as a true champion for health, Jones was applauded for her work done in the field of HIV and domestic violence, and for her promotion for better health and development in the region by Valerie Beach-Horne, of the CARICOM/Pan Caribbean Partnership for HIV/AIDS.

Executive director of the Jennifer Jones Foundation, Susan Jones-Benjamin, described her sister Jennifer as a kind, loving and warm-hearted person, whose generosity and self-sacrifice touched the lives of many.

“She was a wonderful and amazing woman. If you knew her, your lives would have been touched in a wonderful and amazing way forever. She truly cared deeply for persons and the well-being of their lives and wished for everyone a productive and healthy life, and she truly listened and gave advice to persons who sought her intelligence because she was certainly wise beyond her age.

“Investigative journalism was her passion, and her legacy continues to shine,” Jones-Benjamin said.

More than 36 awards were distributed at the ceremony, with SEARCHLIGHT’s Clare Keizer and Junior Jarvis receiving awards for best coverage on autism and special award for health coverage respectively.

Journalists from the Nation Publishing Company in Barbados won 22 of the awards, with Tracy Moore, editor of Better Health magazine, published by the Nation, receiving seven of the lot.

Also recognized at the ceremony were a number of businesses that contribute to health and journalism in Grenada.

The foundation also recognized its first inductee into the OECS Media Hall of Fame; media pioneer Errol Joseph Maitland of Grenada, who died in 2008 at the age of 60. His award was accepted by his daughter Kristal Carr.(JJ)