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Caribbean media urged to rethink role


Caribbean media urged to rethink role

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PORT OF SPAIN – The Caribbean is observing World Press Freedom (WPF) Day on Wednesday amidst calls for the regional media industry to re-examine its place in the present environment and to invest more heavily in the skills to take it through to the next phases of media development.

In a message to mark the occasion, the Trinidad-based Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) said that WPF Day also provides an opportunity “for strong, well-equipped newsrooms and public affairs units staffed by trained and dedicated professionals under conditions befitting their essential roles.

“It is also a time for media professionals to rededicate themselves to the task of shedding light on areas of darkness and speaking truth to both the powerless and the powerful, fearlessly and impartially.

“In many respects, achieving these objectives requires the existence of an environment in which there is much stronger and more pervasive commitment to human rights and freedoms, with an emphasis on freedom of expression and, through this, the protection of communicators in all their diverse manifestations including what we today describe as ‘new media’.”

But the ACM warned that achieving this would require the shaping of societies in which rights are held to be indispensable features of growth and development.

“We are however mindful of the challenges posed by disinformation and propaganda presented as fact and the emergence of new platforms, recognisable mainly by their operational opacity, designed to mislead audiences. In many ways they hinder free expression by misdirecting the free flow of information and interfering with the public’s right to know the truth.”

The ACM said that it reflects on the March 3 Joint Declaration by the UN, OSCE, OAS and ACHPR Special Rapporteurs on ‘Fake News’, Disinformation and Propaganda, “we believe that “All stakeholders – including intermediaries, media outlets, civil society and academia – should be supported in developing participatory and transparent initiatives for creating a better understanding of the impact of disinformation and propaganda on democracy, freedom of expression, journalism and civic space, as well as appropriate responses to these phenomena.

“Such a declaration is supportive of the strategy of the ACM to deploy the weapon of knowledge in the pursuit of higher standards of media practice and media literacy in the Caribbean region.”

The umbrella regional media body said the global observance of World Press Freedom Day 2017 brings special meaning to Caribbean media professionals with its focus on advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies through the application of critical minds during what we recognise to be critical times.

It said that the framing of this challenge by UNESCO “resonates favourably in our region as we pursue the achievement of the related attributes of good governance and sustainable development.

“As media professionals, we recognise there is an implicit impact of good journalism that is both developmental in nature and supportive of the social infrastructure to advance the goal of good governance.

“On World Press Freedom Day 2017, we believe there is much to celebrate but much more work to be done in the promotion of press freedom, enhancement of professional skills in the Caribbean media and the networking of regional journalists in pursuit of peaceful, just and inclusive societies,” the ACM added. (CMC)