As Journalism Week 2013 wrapped up, guest speaker at the Press Association of Jamaica’s awards dinner Professor Errol Morrison challenged the press to devote more time and energy to covering science, technology and innovation issues in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
“Without STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) we will be hewers of wood and drawers of water,” he said.
He’s right. We don’t spend enough time looking at research and development, science and technology. The same, I know, has been said of agriculture and climate change, to name just two other examples.
From the news that UWI Physics lecturer Dr. Tannecia Stephenson, a member of the Climate Studies Group, Mona, has been appointed to a regional Science Advisory Team, to research on school leadership at the University of Technology to agricultural research at Northern Caribbean University, we have not been giving enough attention to a lot of the important developmental work taking place in Jamaica. We have not been giving enough room to some of our people to participate in public discourse.
Now these are not always sexy issues. They are probably not going to be leading the newscasts. But there is a lot of room in media for all types of issues, discussions and treatments.
As Observer columnist and University of the West Indies research fellow Claude Robinson said at a PAJ forum earlier in the week, “we are not cheerleaders” but at the same time, he said that we have a duty to tell the whole story of what is happening in our country. I’m not advocating acting as unpaid publicists, but I take Claude’s point that we need to look beyond the surface. There is always scope for critical analysis and close examination of issues in all areas of national life. The challenge for us is to deal with these issues and tell these stories in interesting and creative ways, that will let us keep our viewers, listeners and readers.
So let me take up this challenge. Let me put this on my “To Do” list for 2014. I’m a big list maker. Let’s see if I can, at the end of 2014, tick this item off.