Caribbean disinformation workshop sees successful conclusion

26 July 2022
Twenty-three Caribbean media professionals participated in our virtual workshop, under the theme “Media literacy in an age of disinformation.” The workshop forms part of our project “Developing a Situation Report & Action Plan on Media and Information Literacy and Disinformation in the Caribbean”.

Media professionals from 11 Caribbean countries reinforced their skills and improved their ability to promote media literacy and combat disinformation, during PMA’s workshop held on 19 and 21 July. The two days were packed with presentations and discussions covering fact-checking and verification, the Caribbean perspective on truth and trust, online investigation techniques, and information disorder (a term that refers to tainted information such as disinformation, misinformation, and mal-information).

Beyond building the professional capacities of the participants, a legacy of the workshop will be a 10-point action plan, produced to better support Caribbean media workers as they navigate challenges related to media literacy and disinformation.

Presenters and experts included the project’s facilitators Kiran Maharaj, President of the Media Institute of the Caribbean (MIC), and Nazima Raghubir, President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM); press association representatives George Sylvester Davis (President of the Press Association of Jamaica), Andre Huie (President of the Media Association of St Kitts & Nevis), and Emmanuel Joseph (General Secretary and Past President of Barbados Association of Journalists and Media Workers); veteran journalists Denis Chabrol (ACM Executive Member) and Wesley Gibbings (MIC Vice-President); and an international journalist Paul Myers (Senior Journalist, Online Investigation specialist and Open-source analyst with the BBC News).

The workshop featured a panel discussion on "Truth, Trust, and Journalism: The Caribbean Perspective" with veteran journalist and ACM Executive Denis Chabrol (top left); General Secretary and Past President of the Barbados Association of Journalists and Media Workers, Emmanuel Joseph (top right); President of the St Kitts & Nevis Media Association, Andre Huie (bottom left); and President of the Press Association of Jamaica, George Sylvester Davis (bottom right).

In her opening remarks, Ms. Raghubir said, “We can all agree that our lives, both professionally and personally, have been affected by unverified as well as misleading information. This has placed an additional strain on newsrooms as additional and often limited resources have to be directed and redirected towards fighting these not-so-new challenges.”

There is certainly a need for continuous media literacy across the region as well as the need to urgently equip media houses and professionals with the tools and funding necessary to rebuild that trust in news.” – Nazima Raghubir, ACM President

Among notable points raised by the participants included the need for the professionalisation of regional media workers, particularly young and emerging journalists. Several people advocated for the establishment of a code of ethics as a method to bolster trust, accountability, and credibility. It was also noted that there was a need for fact-checking initiatives and a public education campaign aimed at helping citizens understand the roles and functions of the media. The participants also discussed their local challenges, which saw an overlap of issues in other countries within the region.

“That is why this session and the research that we are conducting in this region is so important. It will better explain the information ecosystem and give us ideas and insights that will help us, hopefully, have an opportunity to reshape what is currently happening in our region,” Ms. Maharaj said.

What’s next?

The 10-point action plan will be developed in the coming weeks based on the input and discussions from the workshop participants. It will be made publicly available.

The workshop and the resulting 10-point plan are part of a wider project being implemented by the Public Media Alliance and our regional partners, the Media Institute of the Caribbean (MIC) and the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM). It is supported by the UNESCO Kingston office and UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC).

Other elements of the project include:

  • A situation report and analysis of media literacy, disinformation, and trust in news across the Caribbean. The research will cover PMA member nations in 10 Caribbean countries: The Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and Suriname.
  • A panel show to discuss dis- and misinformation, media and information literacy, and the feasibility of a Caribbean-wide trusted news project. Facilitated by the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), this event will be held as part of CBU’s 53rd annual general assembly in Tobago, on 16 August 2022. Register for the event here.

The Public Media Alliance extends our thanks to our facilitators Ms. Kiran Maharaj of MIC and Ms. Nazima Raghubir of ACM for their invaluable input and guidance of the workshop sessions. Special thanks are also extended to our workshop contributors and participants and to UNESCO Kingston and UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communications for their support.