PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Caribbean observed World Press Freedom (WPF) Day 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 provided 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,” the ACM said.
It added: “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.
“Societies in which the role of a free press is recognised, promoted and protected. Societies
that recognise the need for more, not less, news, views, information and contending
analyses,” the ACM said in the statement.
“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 that the global observance of World Press
Freedom Day 2017 brought 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.