Staff of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) gathered in praise and thanksgiving at the Webster Memorial United Church on Half-Way-Tree Road Sunday July 28, 2013 as the agency kicked off its 50th anniversary celebrations.
The JIS team, led by Chief Executive Officer, Donna Marie Rowe, was joined by representatives of Government, clients, family, friends and well-wishers.
The packed congregation included Minister with responsibility for Sport, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, who represented Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Onika Miller; and Press Secretary, Lincoln Robinson, representing Minister with responsibility for Information, Hon. Sandrea Falconer.
Chairman of the JIS Advisory Board, Fae Ellington, read the scripture lesson from the New Testament.
The two-hour long service of thanksgiving included special tributes in song from Mrs. Neita Headley, and JIS staff Aldeen Campbell and Christine Ade- Gold.
In a message read by Mrs. Neita Headley, the Prime Minister noted that as a standard bearer and a principal component of the government’s communication machinery, the JIS has, for 50 years, been a critical player in the dissemination of information to enhance public awareness and knowledge of the policies and programmes of the government.
“It has not been an easy journey over the past five decades but the JIS has successfully managed to deliver quality service in informing the nation of government programmes and activities, reporting on national developments as well as publicising national and community events across the country,” she said.
She further commented that as the country undertakes the significant changes in the management of its affairs and tackles the challenges of national development, “there is no equivocation on the importance of information and the pre-eminent role it must play in our progress.”
“Indeed, information will remain a critical element in the development process if we are to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing ignorance, improving knowledge and understanding and equipping our citizens with the tools to make the best decisions and to effectively participate in the affairs of the nation,” she stated.
“I congratulate the JIS on 50 years of sterling service in the enlightenment of our people and the building of the nation through the dissemination of government information and I wish the agency a memorable golden anniversary,” Mrs. Simpson Miller added.
Mrs. Rowe, for her part, noted that the agency has withstood the test of time to mark its milestone anniversary.
She noted that the agency has served the Government and people of Jamaica with distinction since 1963, and today, is a household name and an entity on which members of our Diaspora rely for vital information on their homeland.
Mrs. Rowe stated that the future is bright at JIS and the present is too “as we seek to be true to our belief that we are agents of change in Jamaica”.
“We believe that we can cultivate a culture of excellence among the staff of the JIS and already, we have seen steps in the right direction with the way in which everyone owns the corporate plan, the operating plan and their individual objectives,” she added.
Meanwhile, in his message, Pastor of the Webster Memorial United Church, Rev. Astor Carlyle, urged the congregation and by extension the country to choose the “stony road of reconciliation and collaboration”.
“The time has come for us to avoid the soft road of escapism and quick fix band-aid solutions and instead, walk the tough uphill path of truth and justice, facing up to our shortcomings and stop hiding behind intellectual gymnastics for Jamaicans are not fools,” Rev. Carlyle said.
For 50 years the JIS has been the voice of Jamaica, bringing timely and accurate information to the public on a variety of programmes, projects and activities undertaken by the Government and its various agencies.
The programmes are dynamic and informative, and the agency is constantly looking at ways to improve and raise the bar.
The JIS is inviting clients and the general public to join in the anniversary celebrations. Already, the agency is rolling out a number of activities to mark the milestone, including bringing back some old favourites from its archives that are sure to delight and elicit nostalgic feelings from viewers and listeners.
A publication on the agency’s history will also be produced, which will feature details of the agency’s background, its journey over the years, and interviews with some of the pioneers, who contributed to its growth and development.
Jamaicans will also get a glimpse of the agency at work over the years through a newspaper supplement. A new and exciting website will also be unveiled during the year.