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Report launched to establish action plan to rebuild trust in Caribbean media

Family and friends happy moments in video conference at home. Credit: FG Trade/iStock

A report and action plan was launched earlier this week in an effort to encourage Caribbean media to adopt best practices and initiatives that will rebuild trust in news media.

The “Situation Report & Action Plan on Media and Information Literacy and Disinformation in the Caribbean” was launched early on Tuesday by the Public Media Alliance (PMA) in partnership with the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) and the Media Institute of the Caribbean (MIC).

Keynote speaker Julius Gittens, Principal Consultant, notes that there has been a recent alarming trend of social media becoming a source for news for the public through images and videos circulated for shock value while more often than not lacking credibility.

“In this current era we’ve witnessed a rise in both a lack of trust in the news media and also the rise of untrustworthy media. What of the endless stream of photos and videos of gore and violence? What effect does exposure to this pornography of crime and violence, to murders, assault, executions, gunplay and its bloody aftermath have on our minds, particularly young minds, who are not shielded from these mind numbing images? There is no watershed on the smart phone.”

This is essentially why this report and action plan was put together.

In compiling this, ACM President Nazima Raghubir and MIC President Kiran Maharaj spent over five months conducting interviews, desk research, and surveys to analyse the issues of media literacy, disinformation, and trust in news facing The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Maharaj adds Key stakeholders across the region must develop approaches that mitigate the existential threat to journalism and fact based information.

“While it is good for people to have perspectives and opinions, obviously the populations do not know who is really an expert and who is not and who is truly an expert and what is truth and fact versus what is opinion.”

Raghubir says that among recommendation to tackle both misinformation and disinformation while committing to media literacy for all, with the goal of rebuilding trust in news media in the Caribbean, is the need for collaborations.

“The need for collaboration was explicitly recommended by all researchers. This recommended collaboration took many forms and there are talks of collaborations not only between ACM and MIC but also other organisations who have similar interests. And also, where the media association in the respective countries are for journalists and media owners to get more involved with those associations.”

Other recommendations stated in the action plan include; developing a Caribbean regional code of practice on disinformation and misinformation, public awareness campaigns, creating a knowledge hub as an online resource centre for regional media practitioners, incorporating media literacy in the school system, investing in technology and training for journalists.

The situation report also includes additional research which sets out to analyse the feasibility of a regional trusted news network in the Caribbean.

The full report will be available by the end of November.

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