The Press Association of Jamaica is again mourning the passing of one of its own, with the death of former Secretary of the Association and multiple-award-winning Associate Editor of the Jamaica Observer Ingrid Brown.
Ingrid served as Secretary of the PAJ from 2012-2014, a task she performed with her trademark diligence. She also represented the PAJ on the board of the Jamaican Copyright Licensing Agency (JAMCOPY).
Ingrid began her journalism career in 1994, working at the now defunct Jamaica Herald, and by 1995, had already won her first professional award from the PAJ for her human interest stories.
Ingrid also worked with the Gleaner, and the Jamaica Information Service, but most of her professional life was spent at her Jamaica Observer, where she thrived, rising to the position of Associate Editor.
Apart from additional Awards from the Press Association Award for Best Feature story in 2008 and Best News Story for 2010, she also won awards from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Fair Play Awards.
In 2011, Ingrid spoke at the PAJ's World Press Freedom Day breakfast. She said, inter alia, the following:
"As journalists we must commit to performing our professional duties with intelligence, objectivity, accuracy and fairness. More important than having that front-page story or that leading item in the newscast is the commitment to ensure that the information being disseminated is accurate, true and fair to all parties concerned.
"As members of the fourth estate we have the awesome responsibility to inform, educate and entertain. But do we realise that information released in the public domain does not go away with an apology? We know that we Jamaicans are of the opinion that 'if it no go so, then is near so'. And for those of us who had the privilege of growing up in small, rural communities we would have first-hand knowledge of how information first told about someone can take on a life of its own and is told far and wide."
In a thought-provoking presentation which is worth revisiting as we in the media continue to grapple with ethical issues, she shared this story:
"I remember as a young girl growing up in deep rural St Catherine where the story is told of a man who stole his neighbour's donkey. In order to avoid detection he changed the donkey's complexion from a light grey to a lovely brown with the aid of a couple bottles of dye. And even as he disguised his neighbour's donkey he was instrumental in leading the search for this donkey who it was believed had broken free and wandered off. But, as the story is told, a few weeks later a heavy shower of rain came and washed the dye off the donkey, revealing the trickery which had occurred.
"To this day I still don't know if this story was true, but what I clearly recall is the hell the children of that man went through as they were teased and called all kinds of names by kids who, like myself, had no evidence that this did happen but had relied on second-hand information from even those who had heard it from someone else.
"Never let us, as journalists, contribute to disseminating information which, while making juicy and, as some of my colleagues say, "sexy" stories, will damage someone's reputation and that of family before ensuring that we have the facts."
Ingrid had completed her law degree, and was about to embark on her studies at the Norman Manley Law School. Although becoming ill several months ago, she continued her studies, as well as her editorial work at the Jamaica Observer until ill health forced her to stop. Her work ethic was beyond question.
But apart from her strong work ethic, and the high quality of her work, Ingrid was, quite simply, a sweet and wonderful person whom colleagues remember as a pleasure to work with.
In this year in which the media fraternity has suffered loss after loss, Ingrid's passing is yet another blow, yet another loss of an outstanding colleague and human being.
We express condolences to her family, the Jamaica Observer family and her friends. We mourn with you.
Contact: Dionne Jackson Miller, President
Rohan Powell, Secretary
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