Thursday, November 26, 2015
Observer executive editor among honorees
BY JAVENE SKYERS Observer staff reporter email@example.com
FOR this year’s Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) veteran honorees, they have not only survived decades of rigours that come with their different roles in the tough media environment, they continue to make valuable contributions to growing and improving the industry.
The four awardees — Jamaica Observer executive editor for publications, Vernon Davidson; Ray Smith, technical director at CVM-TV; Louis Burke, studio director/vision mixer at Television Jamaica; and Algon Brown, pre-press co-coordinator at The Gleaner Company — have served in the sector for periods ranging from 30 years to approximately 50 years.
They were honoured at the PAJ’s annual Veterans’ Luncheon held yesterday at the J Wray & Nephew head office on Spanish Town Road, Kingston. The event is one of the activity used to mark National Journalism Week celebrations.
Other media veterans, such as Fae Ellington, Barbara Gloudon, and PAJ Past President Jenny Campbell turned out in support of their industry colleagues.
“It’s due to their persistence and unwavering commitment to their craft, we believe, that they have opened many doors in the profession that have allowed today’s journalists to enjoy freedom of speech and to really actively participate in what we consider as the evolving media landscape,” said Greta Bogues, senior director for corporate affairs and external communicationns at J Wray & Nephew.
Bogues also commended the association for its recognition of Smith and Brown, whom she said have contributed greatly to the high-quality output by the media over the years working behind the scenes.
The media veterans were presented with citations that commemorated their achievements. The citations were read by fellow colleagues and chronicled the veterans’ body of work in the field and displayed the hard and truly rewarding work that the men undertook over the years.
Brown was described as a quiet, patient and focused man with an unwavering commitment to his job; steadily climbing the ladder of success after entering the media business at just 17 years old as an apprentice at The Gleaner’s printing school.
In the case of Mitchell, the technical director was described as using his skills as a producer, director and broadcaster to tell stories in “his own parallel way”, having covered the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and US Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, respectively. Mitchell’s talents were not only extended to dignitaries abroad, as he also covered the funerals of reggae legend Robert Nesta Marley and former Prime Minister Michael Manley.
With his easy-going personality, Burke was said to have cultivated and maintained a keen focus on the art of television over the past four decades. Having started his career at the now defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Commission, Burke quickly ascended to being one of the best in the technical field, having worked on programmes such as Ring Ding, Profile and Schools’ Challenge Quiz.
The final honoree of the afternoon was Davidson, whose career started in 1981 as sub-editor/reporter at Jamaica Daily News. In 1987 he crossed over into public relations, starting out as an officer at the Jamaica Tourist Board before working his way up to acting media information manager. However, in 1993, Davidson decided to go back into mainstream media, assuming the role of chief sub-editor of the then Weekend Observer to help kick-start the fledgling company. The newspaper became a daily in 1994.
Davidson steadily ascended the ladder at the Observer, being promoted to associate lifestyle and entertainment editor, then senior associate editor, before being appointed executive editor for publications in 2006. It was also noted in his citation that he was the only journalist from the English-speaking Caribbean to have been invited to to cover the 2008 US presidential election.
Davidson, who was also bestowed with the task of replying on behalf of the honorees, thanked the PAJ for the recognition, as well as PAJ President Dionne Jackson-Miller, whom he said was “doing a brilliant job” at the helm of the association. Before leaving the stage, he thanked his wife, Janet, who also attended the luncheon.
“I’ll take responder’s privilege and say a special word of thanks to my wife Janet. It’s extraordinary people who can put up with us as journalists with our extraordinary hours. We are hardly ever at home, and most times our children grow up without us around. But I’d like to thank Janet for all the support and understanding,” he said.
The honorees were also presented with tokens from J Wray & Nephew, which for its 190th celebration, will be awarding a journalist at the PAJ National Journalism Awards function on Saturday. The awards ceremony will be the final event for Journalism Week, which is being observed under the theme ‘New Media, New Challenges’.