F | www.jamaica-gleaner.com | E6 THE GLEANER, THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020 Press freedom loses a ighter free enterprise, Clarke bristled at the socialist notion of developmental journalism linked to government objectives. In the late 1970s, this led to a the famous showdown between The Gleaner and the Michael Manley administration, in which the prime minister himself led a march around The Gleaner’s offices. Along with his publishing peers, Clarke also took on the Maurice Bishop-led People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada after it shut down several private newspapers and jailed journalist Alister Hughes. The late 1970s-early ‘80s was a period of sharp ideological differences between socialist-leaning governments and the captains of private sector media in the anglophone Caribbean, during which Clarke and his fellow publishers were routinely pilloried as CIA agents. Clarke remained undaunted, all the while strengthening his relationship with the InterAmerican Press Association (IAPA). In the late 1990s, as president of IAPA, Clarke led the lobby to get Caribbean governments to sign on to the Declaration of Chapultepec which set out 10 fundamental principles of press freedom. In T&T, his efforts failed when then PM Basdeo Panday refused to sign, accusing the media of disseminating ‘lies, half-truths, and innuendos’. Eventually, in 2002, Panday’s successor, Patrick Manning, signed the declaration. As executive chairman of The Gleaner, Clarke was an entrepreneur who promoted growth through expansion into diasporic markets in the UK, US and Canada. In 2004, he led the purchase of a UK newspaper with strong readership among the black community. Later, as traditional media began to feel the impact of online technology, Clarke led The Gleaner Co Ltd into a merger with the Radio Jamaica Communications Group led by Lester Spaulding, creating a multimedia powerhouse. Seeing the signs of change, he also made a significant investment in online media. As an advocate for greater public access to government-held information, Oliver Clarke was a tireless lobbyist for freedom of information legislation, which was achieved in 2002 when Jamaica’s Parliament passed the Access to Information Act. More personally to this newspaper, Oliver Clarke was a courageous friend on whom the could depend. He understood very deeply the need for regional solidarity in every battle where press freedom was threatened. He served his country, the Caribbean and the cause of press freedom with excellence. We will be forever indebted to him. Our sympathies to his family and to the wider Gleaner family. O VER A career of 44 years, Oliver Clarke built a reputation as one of the Caribbean’s most fearless media magnates. As executive chairman of The Jamaica Gleaner Group, he stood up to every government of Jamaica going back to Michael Manley in the 1970s, and never hesitated when asked to lend his incisive mind and shrewd negotiating charm to pitched battles between the media and governments of the Caribbean. In 1996, he was one of the fourmember team of Caribbean media leaders to stage an intervention when the Basdeo Panday government launched a campaign against the Trinidad Guardian, demanding the firing of its editor-in-chief. With Ken Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago, the late David De Caires of Guyana and Harold Hoyte of Barbados, he was a formidable resource for journalists and independent media houses across the English-speaking Caribbean. An unapologetic flag-bearer for The Voice, Express Personified TRINIDAD EXPRESS Clarke – One of Jamaica’s best He the humanity that makes jamaica great was beyond a mere mistake. He personified the humanity that makes Jamaica great and the leader of its Caribbean and Latin American peers. The institutional memory of KPMG in Jamaica is that Oliver was one of our most visionary clients. Last year, he was given a short time, and it is a testimony to Oliver’s character and mental strength that he proved his doctors wrong and we had that much more time with him. He arranged his affairs carefully and put in place the next-generation succession to take JN and RJRGLEANER to the next level. To his last year he was learning new things. I’m personally saddened but he is in a good place now. We know and work closely with his wife, Monica, and his daughter, Alex. On behalf of my colleagues at KPMG and my own family, we open our hearts out to them and wish them strength. We stand ready to support them through this difficult time. THE JAMAICA National Group is one of our largest clients and we worked closely with Mr Oliver Clarke from his time in the Westmoreland Building Society, JN’s predecessor, so many years ago. The Gleaner Company, too, is one of our two oldest clients, and as such we had a very close relationship with Mr Oliver Clarke. Over the years, he was a mentor to many of our young people, and his recommendation counted, as several became leaders of the firm. He was a fair man and an astute business leader and served Jamaica well on so many fronts: The PSOJ, PALS, the Public Service Commission, the JN Foundation, among others. As a client, our experience with him was that he got to the bottom of a situation very fast, took a considered decision and did not waste anybody’s time. At the same time, he valued loyalty and the fact that a relationship R. TARUN HANDA KPMG, Jamaica
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