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Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence

TVJ reporter Jamaila Maitland is now the message

Published:Friday | February 10, 2023 | 1:07 AM
Jamaila Maitland receiving The Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence in national leadership from Prime Minister Andrew Holness on the evening of Saturday, February 4, on the lawns of Jamaica House in St Andrew.
Jamaila Maitland receiving The Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence in national leadership from Prime Minister Andrew Holness on the evening of Saturday, February 4, on the lawns of Jamaica House in St Andrew.

Jamaila Maitland is no stranger to the spotlight. She has had stints with Business Access cable TV and CVM TV as a reporter. Since July 2021 she has been with TVJ in a similar capacity. But, on Saturday February 4, the script was flipped.

Yes, she was once again in the spotlight, but this time around she was the message. Cameras clicked away, and video light shone brightly as she received the Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence in journalism.

The Hope Valley Experimental Primary School, St Hugh’s High School and University of the West Indies Mona campus alumna grew up in Rose Town, a little community in Trench Town, which has had its fair share of media attention.

Maitland wanted to major in media and communication at the Caribbean School of Media and Communications (Carimac) on the Mona campus, but it did not work out that way. She enrolled in the Faculty of Science and Technology, but planned to transfer to Carimac after her first year in sci-tech.

“However, after going through the orientation at sci-tech, I took on the challenge. After all, technology is the way of the future. Four years later, I graduated with a second-class honours, a strong network that I can call on to this day and being a more rounded professional. Don’t ask if I know how to write programmes or code,” she told The Gleaner.Yet, her tenure in Sci-Tech did not kill her dream of working in media.

During her final year at UWI she had to do an internship. She got the opportunity to work at Global Reporters for the Caribbean as a producer for the show 18 degrees North, and ended up winning her first Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) Award for the Best Television Documentary in 2018 for a feature on incarcerated local dancehall DJ Vybz Kartel. While she was at CVM TV, she was the youngest of four persons shortlisted in the ‘Journalist of the Year’ category in 2020, the same year she was CVM TV’s ‘Journalist of the Year’.

And, she was recently shortlisted again as ‘Journalist of the Year’. The date for that award ceremony was also on Saturday, February 4. What a clash! She chose to attend the National Youth Awards, where she turned out to be the top nominee.

“I didn’t win at the PAJ, however, to have my work recognised felt great. I did this all while transiting from CVM TV to TVJ with just five years under my belt,” Maitland shared. “It feels good to be recognised by the prime minister. I was nominated last year, but I didn’t make it past the interview stage, so, to be among this year’s awardees is an honour. My mom is much happier than me.” But, what inspired her interest in a career in media?

“Watching the news was synonymous with going to school in my household. You had to do it … The calm, cool and collective voices of Allan Magnus and Paula-Ann Porter would wake me in the mornings, and the stern, serious faces of Kerlyn Brown and Dorraine Samuels would put me to bed at nights,” she said.

Seeing the reporters out in the field during natural disasters, elections, et cetera, was also very “fascinating” to her. She thought they were “so brave”. Yet, she said, “It wasn’t until the Tivoli Gardens incursion when I was in the 10th grade that I said, yup, this is what I wanted to do. The entire country was looking on, glued to the TV/paper/radio to get the unfolding of the terror that took place and then the aftermath.”

She is now working in the field, and seems to be happy with her decision, as she said, “From a family receiving assistance, to money being allocated to drain cleaning, to an investigation being launched, etc, knowing that lives are being changed, corrupt practices highlighted, officials held accountable and/or services are optimised bring me real happiness. It’s almost like a case closed feeling. These are the types of impact that I’d like to have.”

Maitland is clearly making a name for herself in a profession that can be very unforgiving, competitive, super stressful, and low-paying, thus it being not a career option for many young people.

“The local media industry is relatively small and fluid. If you do good work, companies will be forced to pay more. There are opportunities that allow freelancing for multiple incomes, fellowships that allow travel which can expand your network of media professionals regionally and internationally. Find something that works best for you, and if there isn’t, create one,” is her advice to them, and those who really want to work in media.