In the past one to two decades, freedom of the press has continued to improve in Jamaica, and the right to information is widely respected. The country thus continues to rank among the safest in the world for journalists.
Broadcast media are commercial and convey a variety of viewpoints, and the country’s main newspapers – Jamaica Observer, Jamaica Gleaner and Jamaica Star – are privately owned. The government has no stake in the vast majority of local media and Jamaica remains very well positioned in terms of content independence.
Although Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has praised the country's press freedom record and repeatedly stated his commitment to uphold it, he has also previously suggested that journalists do not have to stick to the facts or truth, and that a free press enables journalists to “take whatever stance they want”.
Jamaican officials drew criticism at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic when government restrictions were seen as hampering the work of journalists at a time when there was a strong need for reliable information. The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), along with editors and executives from the country’s major media outlets, called on the prime minister to rescind public lockdown orders that prevented TV and radio presenters, reporters, camera operators, technicians and other media professionals from moving around freely.
The private media sector has experienced significant growth due to the development of trade in a growing local economy, which has created an advertising market.
The Jamaican free press often openly criticizes officials, and journalists have occasionally reported intimidation while doing their work, particularly ahead of an election.
Physical attacks are rare, but they do happen. A videographer for Television Jamaica and a reporter for the Jamaica Gleaner were attacked in November 2022 while covering a teachers’ protest in St. Catherine Parish outside Kingston when a man interrupted their interview and damaged their equipment. Apart from this incident, no acts of violence against journalists had been recorded in the past ten years. Still, reporters must measure the threat posed to them by the country’s high crime rate when they are investigating a sensitive subject.