The late Journalist, Michael Sharpe, who passed away today (April 20) at age 65, has been described as a dedicated professional who used his craft to guide new talents and build his country through his passion for human causes.
Mr. Sharpe, who spent some 38 years in the media, from being a reporter to the level of management, had a one-year stint at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), where he served as Information Officer and Assistant Manager in the Regional and Overseas Division between March 1982 and September1983.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the agency, Donna-Marie Rowe, says the JIS family enjoyed working with the veteran journalist on projects, and admired his generous spirit.
“We pray God’s comfort for his immediate family and those who worked close to him,” she adds.
Former Head of News at the then RJR Communications Group, Moya Thomas, remembers Mr. Sharpe as the one who “helped to guide me” in the coverage of Parliament.
She says that despite his very gentle way of directing new and younger reporters, he had a way of making them think and taking charge, as he did with her in 1993, when they went to cover the annual Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show in May Pen, Clarendon.
“What approach are you going to take? Over to you,” she recalls him telling her when they entered the Showground, adding that it was “his style, and it pushed you to figure out, to learn, and to find your own way”.
She says Mr. Sharpe was exceptional in turning a news story into a “cause” for community and national action, recalling a “very young vulnerable boy” who needed care, and Mr. Sharpe “banded with a doctor friend of his, and godfathered the boy”.
“That was just his way of seeing a story as much more than a story. This showed that he had a heart, and he cared beyond making sure that he had contents for the news,” Ms. Thomas says.
His passing, she says, is “sad and surprising, and it reminds us that life is short and we need to give our all and ensure that we make a meaningful impact wherever we find ourselves”.
Veteran Broadcaster and host of Profile, which is aired on Television Jamaica (TVJ), Fae Ellington, recalls meeting Mr. Sharpe at the defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), in the early 1980s while he was “shadowing” the late Ossie Harvey, who was the station’s top technical person at the time.
Ms. Ellington says she was impressed with the “enthusiastic” approach that the young journalist had for the technical side of media, and took the same style for technology right into his job as Head of Jamaica News Network (JNN).
“He lived for the job; the job meant everything to him, and he gave it everything that he got,” she tells JIS News.
Ms. Ellington notes that Mr. Sharpe made outstanding contributions on very important assignments, such as coverage of the invasion of Grenada by the Americans in 1983, and the attempted overthrow of the A.N.R. Robinson Government in Trinidad and Tobago by the Jamaat al Muslimeen in July 1990.
“We will miss him. He made his mark, and we are grateful for his contribution. He loved broadcasting and gave it his all,” she tells JIS News.
Reporter/Producer at TVJ, which is a member of the RJR/Gleaner Communications Group, Krista Campbell, shares that after she made an application to the television arm of the Group, Mr. Sharpe gave her a telephone interview, and she was surprised how someone that she regarded as a giant in the industry was so very “simple and down to earth”.
“He was a good human being, and the best manager I have experienced so far. He made great media practitioners out of young people, and I will never forget him for that. It is a huge loss. So many budding journalists benefited from being in contact with him. A great teacher, mentor and media personality has been lost,” she says.
Chief Executive Officer at Nationwide News Network (NNN), Cliff Hughes, tells JIS News that Mr. Sharpe was very committed to the journalism profession, and the vocation for him was more than a job.
Mr. Hughes says he was very zealous for accurate stories, and persons can emulate him by seeing the profession as a 24/7 and 365-day calling.
For human causes, Mr. Hughes describes the late journalist as a “standout”.
“He loved people, he was committed to improving Jamaica, and he felt passionate about it. He would go beyond the normal calling of a journalist in seeking to help people,” he tells JIS News.
Former Editorial Supervisor at the JIS, Veronica Campbell, says that after Mr. Sharpe entered the agency, he quickly “distinguished himself as a good reporter, and would go on any assignment given to him”.
“He was a very jovial person, and would always want to see you laugh,” Miss Campbell recalls.
Former student at Northern Caribbean University (NCU), now writer, presenter and producer at the JIS, Dontae Matthews, says he admired the journalist, how he presented the news on television, and when he discovered that he was lecturing at the university, he wanted to be in Mr. Sharpe’s class.
“He balanced theory with practicality, producing a lot of knowledge from his head,” he says, noting that the lecturer even brought in his own equipment to ensure that they got the benefit of everything.
“He was very involved with the students’ learning process, and ensured that you got the best for your money,” Mr. Matthews tells JIS News.
Another student of Mr. Sharpe, Timeisha Williams, remembers him as allowing persons “to learn and grow”, adding that he was skilled at putting people at ease, even when the environment was tense.
“He was tough and compassionate at the same time, so we loved going to class, because he was so practical. He helped you to grow by allowing you to embrace the practical side of the industry,” she says.
Miss Williams adds that on hearing the news of the passing of her mentor, her heart “dropped”.
“Outside of the classroom, we interacted on social media. I looked up to him, he had a great impact on me while I was at school. His legacy lives on because he has left footprints for us to be better,” she says.