Speech

The death of John Maxwell on December 10 represents the passing of one of the most influential figures in the Jamaican media landscape for more than half a century.
His professional interests ranged across all media but perhaps his greatest contribution was through the broadcast media. After his early introduction to print journalism at the Gleaner, Mr. Maxwell was part of that pioneering group of dedicated and talented Jamaicans who established the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) in 1959.
As a reporter and commentator, John Maxwell played a leading role in the development of radio news as Jamaicans have come to know it. Later, he would become even more influential in his path-breaking work on radio through Public Eye, which gave new energy and meaning to daytime talk radio. A signal achievement of Public Eye was, in Mr. Maxwell’s own words, “raising the Jamaican consciousness about the condition of working-class women”, especially the treatment of domestic helpers. A result of this advocacy was improved working conditions and a National Minimum Wage.
John Maxwell will also be remembered by an earlier generation of JBC television viewers for nightly interviews of world leaders who were in Jamaica for the 1975 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India and Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, James Callaghan, were among the leaders subjected to John’s persistent probing.
From the perspective of a media regulator, the Broadcasting Commission particularly cherishes Mr. Maxwell’s commitment to the highest standards of professionalism as a broadcast journalist. He was widely known as a courageous defender of basic human rights and the natural environment and was principled and fair in his defence of those rights. It is a legacy that ought to be preserved.
The Broadcasting Commission extends our deepest sympathy to his widow Drs. Marjan de Bruin, other family members and his colleagues in the media fraternity.