Feature
Young journalist and Prime Minister’s Youth Awardee for 2020, Javaughn Keyes.
Photo: Contributed

Young journalist and Prime Minister’s National Youth Awardee for 2020, Javaughn Keyes, says the real awardee is his mother, Claudette Thomas.

Mr. Keyes, 23 years old, tells JIS News that his mother not only brought him into the world but also provided for him, even while she was also in need, because as a freelance florist, business has not always been constant for her.

“My mom is a single parent. She has always been supportive over the years. She is a big part of who I am today because of the hard work she has done over the years. As a single mother, she was able to ensure that I was not wanting of anything over the years, and I dedicate this award to her because I simply would not be here today without the hard work and sacrifices that she has made,” the young resident of Old Harbour, St. Catherine, says.

“I know there were many times when I got frustrated and felt like I wanted to stop, but I was always encouraged, because I know the kind of hard work my mother has always put in to ensure that I am where I am,” he adds.

Mr. Keyes was awarded the Prime Minister’s National Youth Award on December 13, and he is grateful for this national recognition.

“I’m absolutely honoured. I feel blessed. We do a job that’s thankless as journalists, but as someone who knows the kind of impact the work that I do can have, it’s just a humbling feeling to be recognised,” he tells JIS News.

It is his first year being nominated for the award, which is based on the service he has given as a broadcast journalist with the RJR Communications Group, particularly Television Jamaica (TVJ), writing stories for Prime Time News, Morning News and Midday News; hosting and co-producing the shows, titled, The Business Discussion, The Exchange that is broadcast on Jamaica News Network as well as on Television Jamaica.

Mr. Keyes also serves as a track and field announcer in Jamaica, but says journalism is what he is most passionate about.

“I started officially in journalism at 18 [years of age], having just left St. Jago High School. I got a free internship at Business Access TV, and as difficult as it was to take that unpaid internship for a month, there was just something in me that said push and do it, and because I have a love for the industry, I went ahead and that unpaid internship turned into a job. My first official job in media was a production assistant, which then propelled me into becoming a new anchor, reporter and producer at the same station,” Mr. Keyes tells JIS News, adding that he transitioned in 2019 to TVJ.

Mr. Keyes says that his alma mater, St. Jago High School, is what introduced him to his passion for journalism while he was in third form.

“I’ve always said to people that my journalistic experience was really honed and developed at St. Jago High School, and that was the only way I was able to transition easily into the field,” he notes.

“We had a media group to help us understand the principles of writing. The kind of learning that we got there in writing, to write stories, put together a newscast and understanding the principles of production – from there, my skills were honed and I was then able to transition easily to Business Access TV, and in less than a year, I was voicing my own stories and became news anchor,” the former Head Boy at St. Jago High School, adds.

Mr. Keyes began to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Integrated Marketing Communication and a minor in International Relations at the Caribbean School of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, in 2017, while working for Business Access TV.

The young journalist says this was a struggle that he overcame and that has made him stronger.

“There were times when I had difficulties submitting assignments, so ‘big up’ to all my lecturers and tutors at CARIMAC who were so understanding in the process, and, of course, CARIMAC is a part of the reason why I do what I do,” he notes.

“It was one of the most difficult things I had to do, but I know the kind of struggle my mother has always gone through to ensure that I have what I need, and getting the opportunity to work was not something I shied away from, because I knew I wanted to support my mother and help her along the way,” Mr. Keyes adds.

He did stints with KLAS radio for the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletic Championships (CHAMPS), sports broadcast, freelance announcing and voice overs.

Mr. Keyes also worked as an intern at the United States Embassy in Kingston, in the public relations department during 2019.

He tells JIS News that one of his passions is to help others, not just his friends, who describe him as someone who pushes beyond the limits, is hard-working, loving, kind-hearted and is serious about whatever he puts his mind towards achieving.

“I do as much as possible to help others around me, because one of the things that I can say has always filled my heart is the ability to help others and change lives wherever possible,” Mr. Keyes says.

“My aim in life is to help others as I have been helped and to serve others in the same way that I have been served, so that we can help to make life better for each other overall,” he adds.

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