Daily Express Editorial

Over 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 four-member 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, and 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 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 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 Inter-American 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 ten fundamental principles of press freedom. In T&T his efforts failed with then PM Basdeo Panday who 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 The Voice, 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 multi-media 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 Express 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.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

Even under normal conditions, the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination is a well-known source of stress for 11- and 12-year-olds.

One can therefore imagine what it must be like for the 19,300 children who are back at school preparing for the rescheduled exam on August 20. Not only are they in a significantly altered learning environment, but each new report of an SEA pupil having contracted Covid-19 must bring them new anxiety.

A few years ago, a German car company ran an advertising campaign that centred around two words: Drivers wanted.

The idea, of course, was that this auto maker was doing the hard work, creating these amazing vehicles. All you had to do was drive. It went on to be one of their most successful advertising campaigns, and was able to relaunch the brand after many years of poor sales.

THE Minister of Social Development and Family Services was at the absolute top of her game last Wednesday during the national update to the country, as we began to witness what is now a significant uptick in Covid-19-positive cases.

Elections in Trinidad and Tobago are a reflection of the society; believe it or not, everything just goes helter-­skelter. The utterances that come out of most candidates’ mouths are mind-­boggling to some citizens.

I foolishly thought the voice and will of the people decided an election. What an underhanded attempt by the PNM to steal the election.

Firstly, Colm Imbert’s issue ought not to be with Barry Padarath or the UNC. The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC)—the constituted election body—has approved Padarath’s candidacy, which means as far as it is concerned, he has met all the required stipulations.

Stupidity kills. That’s not an exaggeration. Stupidity, coupled with ignorance, is an even deadlier combination. Just Google “Darwin Awards”.

Weeks ago, I predicted a rise in Covid-19 cases in T&T. It wasn’t difficult to foresee the current spate of infection growth.