Jamaica Gleaner

The Gleaner’s bright fu­ture

- Business · Jamaica · Gleaner Company

WE WOULD have been naive not to have an­tic­i­pated the un­ease, ap­pre­hen­sion even, among some read­ers of this news­pa­per over the an­nounce­ment of its planned ac­qui­si­tion by RJR Lim­ited as part of that com­pany’s broader takeover of the media as­sets of The Gleaner Com­pany Lim­ited.

Af­ter all, for 180 years, the Gleaner news­pa­per has been the stan­dard-bearer of Ja­maica’s jour­nal­ism – a cham­pion of the coun­try’s democ­racy and a de­fender of in­di­vid­ual rights and free­doms when­ever these fall un­der threat from what­ever quar­ter. We have worked hard for, and gained, the peo­ple’s trust. More­over, The Gleaner is an iconic brand that res­onates as much with Ja­maicans in the di­as­pora as with those at home.

While the un­cer­tain­ties are, in the cir­cum­stances, un­der­stand­able, there is lit­tle real cause for fear. Rather, what is un­fold­ing ought to be her­alded with ex­cite­ment and op­ti­mism. For in it lies the best op­por­tu­nity for the sur­vival of a strong, in­de­pen­dent Ja­maican media that sub­scribe to the val­ues by which The Gleaner has abided for 18 decades.

HON­EST AND FEAR­LESS

First, in its 65 years as a broad­caster, Ra­dio Ja­maica has, like The Gleaner, earned a rep­u­ta­tion for hon­est, fear­less and ac­cu­rate re­port­ing. Like us, it has been com­mit­ted to truth and ser­vice to the Ja­maican peo­ple.

We, how­ever, have main­tained the in­tegrity of our jour­nal­ism be­cause we have, for the most part, been suc­cess­ful and prof­itable. That is in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to do in Ja­maica’s harsh eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment and in a media mar­ket that has grown frag­mented, has had lit­tle ex­pan­sion, and in which large, for­eign-owned tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies have joined the fray. And therein lies the great­est threat to small, weak and un­prof­itable media com­pa­nies.

Sur­vival, in the cir­cum­stances, de­mands cre­ative think­ing, the em­brace of new tech­nolo­gies, and a will­ing­ness to take risks, even as we main­tain our core val­ues. This starts with en­sur­ing that we op­er­ate vi­able busi­nesses that earn the profit to in­vest in the tech­nol­ogy and the peo­ple who can de­liver the qual­ity prod­ucts de­manded by our au­di­ences.

And that, ul­ti­mately, is what this de­ci­sion to merge the RJR and Gleaner Com­pany media as­sets is about: the cre­ation of a com­pany that is stronger, broadly owned – RJR is public listed and has a 10 per cent on own­er­ship of its shares – vi­able and com­pet­i­tive, which is the best guar­an­tor of this news­pa­per and the free media, more gen­er­ally. Fur­ther, this agree­ment should be good for the share­hold­ers of both RJR and The Gleaner Com­pany, who we ex­pect to ben­e­fit from the abil­ity of the com­bined com­pany to lever­age its size and ex­tract ef­fi­cien­cies from the merged oper­a­tions.

Fur­ther, we pledge The Gleaner’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to ac­cu­racy, fair­ness, fear­less­ness, truth and the pro­mo­tion of democ­racy, in­di­vid­ual free­doms and the prin­ci­ples of free en­ter­prise, which, for us, is a lived shib­bo­leth.

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