- OPM not opposed to granting on-location interviews with the media.
- Interviews will take place after the Prime Minister has completed her engagement, and not upon her arrival.
- “Journalists have a right to access to the Prime Minister and we want to facilitate that access."
Minister with responsibility for Information in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, has released a letter sent to Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) President Jenni Campbell in May this year, which shows that the OPM was not opposed to granting on-location interviews with the media.
The Information Minister said that within the last week, many have expressed concerns that the OPM had made recommendations to the PAJ, which would restrict access to the Prime Minister and which were burdensome. Earlier this year, discussions were held between the OPM and the PAJ, following concerns by the organisation about on-location access to the Prime Minister.
In a letter to PAJ President, Jenni Campbell dated May 2, 2013, Minister Falconer stated: “the Office of the Prime Minister will continue to facilitate scheduled and impromptu interview requests with The Most Hon. Prime Minister.”
In a release on Wednesday, the Minister said it was recommended then that “for a more organized process” media houses and journalists “should observe the following procedures”. First, was that “for unscheduled/impromptu interviews, a request should be made to the Communications Official or another member of the Prime Minister’s Support Team on location. If granted, such interviews will take place after the Prime Minister has completed her engagement, and not upon her arrival.”
The Minister now adds: “It is clear from this letter of May that we did contemplate and have been willing to accommodate on-location interviews with the Prime Minister, contrary to the inference being drawn by some that the OPM does not believe in giving that access to the media”.
“We are not and have never been opposed to on-location, impromptu interviews with the Prime Minister. What we have asked for is some order to the process”.
In her May letter to the PAJ President, Minister Falconer said: “As you are aware, the draft protocol, which was discussed at our joint meeting last week had nothing to do with restricting journalists in ‘their pursuit of truth and holding public officials accountable”.
The letter ended by saying, “I look forward to having further discussions with you in the hope that we can work together to foster an environment of mutual respect, as we in our respective fields work for the advancement and development of our beloved country”.
Minister Falconer, in a release today, assured that “my doors are still open and I urge the PAJ to let us talk this out calmly and rationally around the table”.
“Journalists have a right to access to the Prime Minister and we want to facilitate that access. Let us work together to ensure the best ways of doing so,” the Minister concluded.