News and Views by Dionne Jackson Miller

pointed commentary on current affairs in Jamaica and the Caribbean


December 2013

2013 in review

Thanks to all the visitors to my blog this year. As always in Jamaica, it’s been an eventful year (when isn’t it?) and there’s been a lot to talk about. I didn’t achieve all my goals for the blog but I certainly continued to develop my concept for it. I have more plans and there’s more to come in 2014 so do stay tuned. Who know, perhaps that podcast that Carole Beckford is urging me to do may be on the horizon! Below is my summary from the folks at

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 46,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Top Ten Stories of 2013


Following are ten big stories of 2013. How did these stories impact you? 


10.Tessanne Chin wins the US talent show The Voice: this was a story that captivated us for the last few months of the year. Social media rallied around #TeamTessanne and Jamaicans everywhere were proud to see one of their own doing so well on a US stage. Tessanne’s ever-present humility, attachment to her fellow contestants, gratitude to her coach Adam Levine and of course, obvious talent made the show a must-watch for thousands every week. As I wrote here, the story is undeniably newsworthy. Having said that, let me anticipate the howls of protest over my designation of this story as number 10. This was the ultimate feel-good, inspirational story. However, it hasn’t and will not, affect any of the pressing issues facing the country, and neither will it impact in any long-lasting way (compared to the other stories on my list) the lives of Jamaicans.


English: Nelson Mandela, former President of S...
English: Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9. Nelson Mandela’s death: The death of the first black President of South Africa resonated around the world. The Jamaican link with the struggle against apartheid made his passing especially poignant for us, and his accomplishments as a freedom fighter and world leader made us think about what leadership and sacrifice really mean.


8. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s leadership: The Prime Minister came under more scrutiny for aspects of her leadership. Her foreign travel, and limited dealings with the press, and interaction with the public through press conferences, public fora, meetings etc. were among the issues discussed.


7. Richard Azan – the state minister’s resignation after being criticized for his involvement in construction of shops at the Spaulding market ignited discussion about governance, the role of Members of Parliament and playing by the rules. His re-instatement by Prime Minister Simpson-Miller was just as controversial.


6 JLP leadership challenge:  A bona fide leadership campaign and election in the


JLP supporters Photo by DJ Miller
JLP supporters
Photo by DJ Miller

Opposition Jamaica Labour Party made news for months. As I said in this article in the Gleaner, the leadership campaign allowed us to start to get a better feeling for Andrew Holness as a political leader.


5. Goat Island development : The proposal to allow Chinese investors to build a transshipment port on the Goat Islands set off a huge public discussion about government decision-making processes, sustainable development, and the importance of protected areas.


church, oca 0934. Children in care of the state: the continued advocacy of children’s rights groups saw them coming into conflict with the government on several occasions. There are few more important stories than how we treat our most vulnerable – children among them.


3. Murder figures rise again – Murder figures are rising again, attributed by the National Security Minister and the Police Commissioner to criminal gangs, and an increase in the drugs trade. There are very few things that concern Jamaicans more, affect the country’s image more negatively, and touch our sense of safety and security every single day.


2. Economy/IMF – the hardships for the average Jamaican as a result of Jamaica’s under-performing economy and the IMF agreement including increased taxes and a sliding dollar continued to hit Jamaicans in the pocketbook.


No smoking symbol1
No smoking symbol1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Ban on smoking in public places : for me, this was one of the single most significant stories in 2013. The World Health Organisation reports that 600,000 people die every year from second hand smoke. WHO reported earlier this year that “Tobacco control measures in place in 41 countries between 2007 and 2010 will prevent some 7.4 million premature deaths by 2050.”  The Jamaican regulations, although still a work in progress, need to be seen in this context


I Was Chided For Focusing on Tessanne Chin

All US viewers are eligible to call 1855-VOICE...
All US viewers are eligible to call 1855-VOICE-02 – 10 times from 9:55pm to 11amEST tomorrow to support @thebestess @tessanne #tesstop4 #teamtessanne #teamadam #nbcthevoice (Photo credit: izatrini_com)

On Monday on my radio programme, I spent the first 45 minutes discussing the new law allowing  personal property to be used as security for loans, which, it is hoped, will help small businesses. We had a 6-minute international segment on Syria, then spent about 12 minutes talking about crime in St. James. That was followed – one hour into the programme – by a 9-minute interview with Michael Cuffe, Tessanne’s husband, who is in L.A. for the finals of the US talent show, The Voice, in which Tessanne Chin is competing. My half hour Hot Topic segment – after 7 o’ clock, was spent talking about the songs for the night’s competition.

One listener said she supported Tessanne but wished I had spent more time on crime in St. James. Another listener texted me a sad story about his niece who had been recently murdered and said that the story about Tessanne is a distraction from Jamaica’s real problems.

Yes, there were only two comments. I got many others congratulating Tessanne. So why mention them at all? In the first place, all views should contend, and I shared both comments on air. Secondly, they raise the question again of “What is News?” As a result, they represent a frequently expressed view, whenever I focus on something that is not “hard news,” that I am wasting time talking about whatever it is when we have serious issues to talk about.

Yes, we do. And we do talk about those serious issues. I have been doing talk radio for 17 years, and we talk, and talk and talk about the troika of news in Jamaica – politics-crime-economy. I have spent countless hours looking at those issues from every angle known to man. I have also discussed many other issues – education, the environment, children’s rights, issues affecting the disabled community, for example.

What is news? All those issues should, and do, make the news.  But the story of Tessanne Chin is also news. I spoke in this post about why an item about model/beauty queen/celebrity Yendi was news. Tessanne’s story is MUCH bigger than that story about Yendi.

A story like Tessane Chin’s is rare. A human interest story that has captured the interest

Photo by DJ Miller
Photo by DJ Miller

of all of Jamaica and the diaspora. A story of a talented, hardworking, humble Jamaican whose “Jamaicanness” shines through her every word and action. A Jamaican on the international scene who allows us to hold our head high.  Someone we are rooting for all the way. It’s a story that gives us a little respite for a few short hours, from the hardships of what it means to live in Jamaica.

And from a journalism point of view, it is a human interest story that also ticks all the other boxes of what makes news – proximity, impact, relevance, timeliness, conflict, unusualness, prominence.

And for bigging up this story, as a journalist, I make no apologies. Would that we had more of them.

NB see my other posts on Tessanne: Why the Sudden Love for Tessanne, and Ten Reasons We’re All Rooting For Tessanne Chin. 

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