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Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, is encouraging media practitioners to broaden the “search light” on corruption to include other powerful persons in the society.

She stated that while she is not requesting that the media lessen its focus on politicians or the Government, they must also target powerful factions such as the private sector and the criminal underworld.

“Keep public officials on their toes and ferret out anything that needs to be exposed. Be fearless in your pursuit and not be deterred, but make sure public officials are not the only ones you (target),” she said today (December 4), while addressing the National Journalism Week 2012 Forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.

“I say to you, do not stop with just politicians and public officials. What about those with big money in the society; those with strength of cash who, in these times of tight advertising and sponsorship budgets, have the power of the purse strings? Are you as fearless in pursuing stories involving them? Are you as bold and strident in criticising them, if indeed, the facts lead you down that road?” she questioned.

Minister Falconer stated that the Government remains committed to doing everything to facilitate transparency and accountability in public life and welcomes the scrutiny of the press. “The Government…has nothing to fear when it comes to press scrutiny on issues of corruption. I can tell you my Prime Minister is resolute about stamping out corruption and she would have absolutely no tolerance for it among us, her colleagues,” she said.

She however, appealed to journalists, not to take the “narrow view of corruption,” but to broaden their scope and investigate other areas where corruption is rife, such as in the workplace where “corrupt bosses…use their power to exploit (women) sexually,” telling the media to “expose them with their pants down”.

She urged the press to take on as well, the corruption of sexual trafficking, imploring them to “track down these traffickers and shed the light of day on their dark deeds."

Minister Falconer reminded the press that its job is to bear witness to the nation and by extension the world in a truthful and fair and balanced way. “Your work must be characterised by accuracy and you must always guarantee the opportunity of reply to all,” she said.

She pointed out that journalists must also be accountable for their own actions and to be mindful of stories that could harm people and families, stressing that if the stories could harm anyone, “it is your duty to ensure that at least they pass a basic public interest test”.

“There is no place for arrogance and cruelty. If mistakes are made, you have a responsibility to be the first to correct them. You must police yourselves and ensure that those among you, who are guilty of excesses, are reigned in. That is what ethical journalism is all about,” she stated.

The forum, held under the theme: 'Fighting the Corruption Scourge’, formed part of activities for National Journalism Week. It was organised by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) through sponsorship by National Integrity Action (NIA).