• Feature
    Late Journalist, Ken Chaplin.

    Story Highlights

    • Late veteran journalist, Ken Chaplin, has left an indelible mark on a profession in which he carved his niche at an early age.
    • Mr. Chaplin was only 17 years old when he entered journalism in 1947, and since then has served with distinction, earning several awards, including esteemed national accolades.
    • The media professional, who had been ailing for some time, died on Tuesday (July 30). He was 89 years old.

    Late veteran journalist, Ken Chaplin, has left an indelible mark on a profession in which he carved his niche at an early age.

    Mr. Chaplin was only 17 years old when he entered journalism in 1947, and since then has served with distinction, earning several awards, including esteemed national accolades.

    The media professional, who had been ailing for some time, died on Tuesday (July 30). He was 89 years old.

    Known for his excellent managerial skills, Mr. Chaplin, who joined the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) in the early 1960s, was requested by the Government in 1984 to spearhead the establishment of the National News Agency, JAMPRESS, replacing the Editorial Department of the JIS.

    The agency began operations in October 1984 with Mr. Chaplin as the first Executive Director, and having its own Board of Directors.

    Reflecting on Mr. Chaplin’s tenure with JAMPRESS, Managing Editor of the JIS, Godfrey Barnes, who worked with Mr. Chaplin from the establishment of JAMPRESS until he retired, says “he worked very hard and diligently with his staff during the formative years to build the credibility of JAMPRESS, which became a reliable source of information on government activities”.

    “Mr. Chaplin was a real professional, ensuring that information disseminated from JAMPRESS was factual and balanced,” Mr. Barnes says.

    In 1993, Mr. Chaplin retired as Head of JAMPRESS, giving way to noted Journalist, Desmond Allen, who led the agency until it was incorporated back into the JIS in 2001, when the JIS became an Executive Agency.

    Retired civil servant, Calpurnia Campbell, who was Mr. Chaplin’s Secretary from 1984 to 1993, said one of the attributes that stood out about Mr. Chaplin was that he catered to the welfare of staff.

    She adds that he was a hard worker who “gave his all” to any Administration he served, noting that he was really a workaholic, quipping that “anytime of the day or night you called Mr. Chaplin, he was available”.

    Throughout his distinguished career, Mr. Chaplin had the honour of serving as Press Secretary to four Jamaican Prime Ministers – the Most Hon. Hugh Lawson Shearer, the Most Hon. Michael Manley, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, and the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson. He also served as Press Advisor for Former Prime Minister of Grenada, Herbert Blaize.

    In his tribute today, Mr. Patterson said Ken Chaplin’s life embodied the very essence of service of the highest standards in one’s chosen profession, which, for him, was journalism and media relations.

    “He was the consummate professional who was true to his calling and dutiful in carrying out his responsibilities. Ken is remembered as someone who was competent, fair, firm and respectful in executing his tasks and personable in his everyday demeanour,” Mr. Patterson said.

    “His exceptional knowledge of the Jamaican media landscape assisted the Office of the Prime Minister in its outreach to the media fraternity and so doing, was invaluable in the processes of communication; and public information management, dissemination and feedback. In the public sector, his contribution extended to leading roles at the Jamaica Information Service and the former government news agency JAMPRESS over many years,” he added.

    Mr. Chaplin, who was President of the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) twice, also served as an Information Consultant for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and an Information Officer of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).

    Also an avid sportsman, Mr. Chaplin was a football referee for 37 years, 18 of which he served as a Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)-certified official. In addition, he was a Referee Inspector and Chairman of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Referees Commission.

    Mr. Chaplin was also the author of a biography of West Indies cricketer, Collie Smith, titled ‘The Happy Warrior’.

    His illustrious work in journalism and sports saw him being bestowed with the Order of Distinction in both the Officer and Commander classes by the Government.

    Mr. Chaplin was also recognised by FIFA in 1980 with a distinguished service award, the highest award for referees. He also received awards from the PAJ and the JFF.

    After his retirement, Mr. Chaplin wrote a weekly column for the Jamaica Observer.