A recent awareness and impact study conducted by Market Research Services Limited (MRSL) has found that, for the most part, persons are satisfied with the role being played by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) in providing information on Government policies and programmes.
Just over 55 per cent of those polled expressed the view that the JIS is doing “a very good job”. Other responses included: “If I miss items of interest on the news, I can get it from JIS”; “Gives you more information on government than any other media/medium”; “You can learn from the programmes”; “The information is reliable”; and “The programmes are interesting”.
“The results were actually quite positive, because over 66 per cent felt it was important to have ongoing information about Government programmes, policies and institutions. in general, people have a pretty good opinion of the JIS and, again, it is because they believe that the JIS produces good programmes, provides information and reports on the things that are happening,” explained Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MRSL and Management Consultant, Don Anderson.
Those polled generally placed a high level of importance on receiving ongoing information about Government’s programmes and policies, with 89 per cent of persons relying on television for such information, and 64 per cent of those relying on this medium more than any other source.
“We asked people to say what they thought was the positive things that they associate with the JIS, and the largest one was that the JIS provides information that is current and useful. Over a third of all the people interviewed said this was one of the strong positives that they identified,” Mr. Anderson noted.
He said, however, that people are aware, but not widely enough, that the JIS does work in various communities around the island.
“Less than 50 per cent were aware of that, and there needs to be some work in terms of promoting the amount of work that the JIS does in communities,” he said.
People also were not really aware that the JIS has a website, which carries news about happenings around Jamaica and Government events.
“Just about 39 per cent were aware. That number needs to be increased. So there needs to be a way to get a lot more people to know about the website,” Mr. Anderson suggested.
Of note is that some 76 per cent of those polled did not identify any negatives associated with the JIS.
“In other words there really isn’t anything major that people see as being negative,” Mr. Anderson remarked.
Generally, the study found that there was not a lot of awareness of the other things that the JIS does, such as the printing of calendars, brochures, greeting cards and business cards, among other things. Persons were also not aware of services such as equipment rental for television production.
“Overall, we felt that the JIS had a relatively good rating, when people were asked about the programmes on radio and TV, whether it is a good source of information and so on. To a large extent, people are saying, no we don’t turn off the channel when we see JIS coming on, and they tend to keep tuned,” Mr. Anderson asserted.
In fact, 91 per cent of respondents agreed that the JIS stands out mainly for having good radio and television programmes.
Most agreed that the JIS serves a useful purpose for the government, that they like the programmes, and that the JIS is highly respected for its work. Forty per cent of those polled felt the JIS is an independent body like any other media, with 22 per cent somewhat agreeing. Sixty-two per cent felt the agency has done a good job over the years, regardless of the political party at the helm.
“So there is a pretty positive result coming out of the survey and it is something that the JIS can be happy about but, clearly, there is work that needs to be done in terms of building awareness and usage of the website and building greater awareness of what the JIS really does. But, there are no major kinds of associations of the JIS with a political kind of agenda and that’s very important to note,” Mr. Anderson reinforced.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the JIS, Donna Marie Rowe, says that the agency welcomes the opportunity to increase the frequency of its programmes, as is now being discussed with commercial media managers.
“It makes sense to have news and information on government policies and programmes at regular intervals being broadcast in mainstream media,” Mrs. Rowe said.
“Bear in mind that we will not be using more than the 30 minutes that is allotted for government broadcasts on radio and the 45 minutes on television. The JIS is not taking more time, but using the time more efficiently,” she explained.
Mrs. Rowe also noted that the JIS has already begun to align its format to the information and communication needs of the nation, by producing five-minute news and feature packages, which help to keep citizens informed. In fact, she pointed out, a number of media managers have welcomed the new format, because it is a better fit for their programming.
“While we found that we had a captive audience for the 30-minute programme – “Jamaica Magazine” – I find that more people are saying they are hearing the programmes with the new format. We are pleased with the feedback we have been getting, which indicates that we are reaching more people from a wider cross section of society. Through repetition, it is ensured that the information is reinforced,” she explained.
The MRSL survey was carried out to provide a range and depth of information that will enable the agency to critically examine its operations, and develop strategies to more effectively carry out its mandate. The research used one-on-one interviews, targeting 600 persons across the island. The respondents were strategically selected, using the MRSL’s random procedures for identifying and recruiting persons to participate in a survey. This technique ensures complete objectivity and involved one person per household. A standard, pre-tested questionnaire was used by all respondents.
Respondents comprised 54 per cent female, and drew from the upper, upper middle, middle, lower middle and low socio-economic classes, across Kingston and St. Andrew, eastern, central, northern, and western Jamaica.