New online publication, Public Opinion, launched

Monday, March 20, 2017

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Distinguished attorney Walter Scott, QC last Friday launched Jamaica’s newest electronic periodical, Public Opinion, and expressed confidence that the online publication will bring thought leadership to the country.

The launch was a culmination of months of detailed research and planning by Scott, who acquired the name which stood on the masthead of the respected tabloid-sized newspaper founded in the 1930s, but which is no longer in publication.


That point was highlighted by the new publication’s Managing Director Astrid Scott-Beckford in her address at last Friday’s launch.


"On February 20, 1937, a weekly publication titled Public Opinion became widely acclaimed as a premier source of thought-provoking and progressive commentary on the issues of the day. No topical stone was left unturned with writers expressing both liberal and conservative views," she said.


"Today, we present to you another Public Opinion with the same noble aim. Our commentary strives to be educational, insightful, piercing, and always up to date. We made sure to select the creme de la creme for our contributor base," Scott-Beckford added.


Noting that the new publication is embracing the 21st century and all that it entails, Scott-Beckford pointed out that Public Opinion is entirely web-based and intends "to publish our commentary through every single electronic means that we can get our hands on. That includes a variety of social media platforms. We’re on Facebook and Twitter right now and we’re going to go on Instagram and others in the future", she said.


Scott, in his remarks, said the publication is designed to "provoke thought and discussion" as he listed the first group of contributors, namely veteran journalist Cliff Hughes, trade unionist Danny Roberts, retired businessman and political and social commentator James Moss-Solomon, former Contractor General Glen Christie, Alexander Scott, and one writer using the nom de plume The Laird.


Other well-known social and political commentators will join the list of contributors to the publication which can be found at publicopinion.news.


Scott explained that the periodical will be published fortnightly for the first six months, after which it will be uploaded weekly at 12:01 am on Fridays.


"This is what we have to do in the country; we have to launch new ventures, go out and do things.
Public Opinion is designed to be your weekend read, and what is very important is that it is free," said Scott, the founder of Anfield Publishers, owners of the publication.


Guest speaker Ruel Reid, the minister of education, youth and information, was unable to attend as he was overseas. However, he welcomed the publication in his address delivered by Winnie Berry, chief education officer in charge of media services at the ministry.


The ministry, he said, was thrilled that Public Opinion will be a source of information for students and will help nurture curiosity and a love for learning.


"Knowledge and the approach to accessing knowledge are rapidly changing. The online social learning service designed to assist students to read, to learn, is therefore highly commendable and the ministry embraces this concept as it will enable our students to learn in an unconventional and rewarding environment," Reid said.


"We agree that this paper will bring thought leadership to the country and should certainly uplift the public discourse on a wide range of public issues. The concept of the epaper, Public Opinion, is timely," Reid added.


Opposition spokesman on information and knowledge economy Julian Robinson, who is also general secretary of the People’s National Party (PNP), welcomed the periodical.


He recalled that when Public Opinion, the newspaper, was launched in the 1930s "by a group of very progressive Jamaicans" it was the precursor to the formation of the PNP.


"OT Fariclough, who really was the founder of the PNP and who went for Norman Manley to lead the party, was the editor of
Public Opinion," Robinson said.


"What I hope this publication now represents is independent thought, because we don’t have enough independent thought leadership in this country. I hope that this provides an opportunity for people of all persuasions, whether political [or] social, to be contributors," he said.


Robinson also said he believes that publications have an important role to play in ensuring accountability in the country, especially among politicians. "I think truly independent publications can play that role."


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