From 1998 to 2020, the call for the freedom of the press and has been expressed 13 times in the themes that umbrella the United Nation’s annual observance of World Press Freedom Day.
This year, its theme “Information as a Public Good,” focuses on three tenets: Steps to ensure the economic viability of news media, mechanisms for ensuring transparency of internet companies, and enhanced media and information literacy (MIL) capacities that enable people to recognise and value, as well as defend and demand, journalism as a vital part of information as a public good.
Yesterday media associations asserted the many challenges journalists and media workers were currently experiencing, particularly in this pandemic era.
They agreed in a time when accurate information was needed more than ever, with the advent of social media and fake news, and its far-reaching capacity, they now also faced “public good” contamination. It is with this in mind, the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) have reminded journalists to stand their ground without fear or favour.
“In an age where journalism is under increasing attack from all directions, journalists must hold true to their responsibilities and demand that they be allowed to fulfil their mandate,” the TTPBA said in a statement yesterday.
It was the view of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), maintaining a free flow of information was not just the media industry’s business, but also the commitment of several groups.
It wrote, “On this occasion, the global community is paying close attention to the importance of free and independent media in providing the public with reliable, timely and trustworthy information. But it must be recognised that this is not an exclusive prerogative of the media industry. It is a process that requires the commitment of all sectors of our societies, including the state and civil society.”
ACM agreed in a time where journalists and media workers were, unfortunately, competing with illegitimate players, it was also a time when the capability of media systems was being tested in ways not witnessed in recent history.
Meanwhile submitted via its statement yesterday, the Media Institute of the Caribbean (MIC) said media was also now fighting distinction. MIC disclosed a survey charged by the institute in 2020 designated, 15 per cent of journalists had to seek additional employment due to changes in the newsroom portfolio.
It said there was an immediate need for access to information and freedom of information legislation and improvements to what currently existed.
“These include better resourced public information systems, a more conducive culture of governance, and the presence of strong, meaningful legislation to better facilitate public access to state-held information," MIC suggested.