History

 

HISTORY OF THE PRESS ASSOCIATION OF JAMAICA

Originating in the office of Evon Blake, editor and publisher of the Spotlight Magazine in 1943, the Press Association of Jamaica was formed after a discussion among Blake, Wyatt Bryce and a lady who later became Mrs. Wyatt Bryce for ‘newspaper men’ and working journalists.  This was to be the first association of its kind in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

Full of ideas, The Press Association of Jamaica convened its first general meeting on August 9 1943, with Dr Theodore Sealy as its first president at the Institute of Jamaica’s Junior Centre Hall with over a score of its 30 odd members present. They discussed, among other things, plans for a luncheon to honour Honourary President Herbert George Delisser, starting a Press Club, establishing a reference library as well as boosting membership and funds.

With membership being pulled primarily from the Press including Daily Gleaner, Daily Express, Jamaica Times, Public Opinion and Spotlight, the constitution was considered ‘elastic’ enough to enroll people who contributed to the Press and as such the association was looking forward to a lusty growth. But ironically, although the PAJ was the brain child of Evon Blake, he was not allowed to ‘join’ the association as a founding member because he was an editor/publisher and the association was aimed at ‘working journalists’.  This did not deter him, however, from making valuable contributions to the association and maintaining his interest.  Later, a compromise was reached and he, among others in similar capacities, was admitted to the association.  Blake later resigned from the association for reasons that the association’s focus had been wavering.

Membership increased over the years, and respect for the association grew as it steadily represented the working professional journalists of Jamaica.

In 1963, the name of the Association changed from the Jamaican Press Association to the Press Association of Jamaica on a motion presented by then president, Theodore Sealy, as he thought they should do away with the old Colonial practice of ‘calling local things Jamaican’.

The association’s first awards, the Seprod Awards for Journalism, were first announced at the 21st anniversary dinner in December 1963 when Seprod Company Limited gave the association a gift of £500 to promote awards for journalism in Jamaica.

Some of the first recipients of the awards were Ulric Simmonds, Barbara Gloudon, Evon Blake, Morris Cargill, Audrey Chong and Vere Johns.

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