Professor Rex Nettleford: A Mentor to Journalists

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Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) joins the national, regional and international community in saluting the memory of Professor Rex Nettleford, who passed away on Tuesday (February 2)…

Besides serving as a foundation lecturer at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), Professor Nettleford’s affiliation with the PAJ transcends some three decades of service in our efforts to advance professional standards in the public interest.

Former PAJ Secretary Clare Forrester recalls Professor Nettleford’s dedicated service as the Chief Judge for the National Journalism Awards in Jamaica from its inception in the early 1980s until the start of the present millennium. She says he was available to the PAJ leadership, consistently applying himself to the thankless, grueling task of reviewing, and assessing the annual submissions with the support of other luminaries such as Barbara Gloudon, Fred Wilmot, Aggrey Brown, Peter Abrahams and Berl Francis, among others.

Ms Forrester remembers that Professor Nettleford would endeavour to make time in his busy schedule, often wiring home while on overseas duty travel, to assure the PAJ that he would be back in time to review the selection process. He never shied away from reporting in person about his findings, nor from fielding the many criticisms that were an inevitable part of the process.

“Those of us who worked closest with him became familiar with his punishing daily schedule. His preferred time of day for such consultations was between 4 and 6 a.m. How he managed such a routine given his many and varied other commitments remain one of the all-time mysteries of our time,” Ms Forrester notes.

In 1985 Professor Nettleford launched the annual Veteran Journalists Luncheon gathering, hosted by Wray & Nephew, and instituted as part of the PAJ’s 40th anniversary celebration of Journalism Week.

Despite a reduced programme of interaction with the PAJ leadership in recent years, he remained a towering resource up until his passing yesterday February 2 and an indelible part of the history of journalism in our region.

We offer our sympathy to his relatives, academic colleagues, and countless friends; and are at one in prayer for his soul to be granted eternal rest.

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