The Public Media Alliance will run a unique social media workshop for Caribbean journalists this June, offering participants the opportunity to contribute to a new set of guidelines for the region.

This inclusive and collaborative workshop will compile social media guidelines for news media in the Caribbean. It will offer participants from across the region the opportunity to learn new skills while contributing to guidelines developed for and by Caribbean media workers. The guidelines will set out policies and best practices to ensure that news media use social media productively and avoid common pitfalls.

The lead workshop facilitator is Paul Myers who has been training professional researchers, investigators and journalists around the world since 1999, including the BBC.

The event will take place in Barbados from 19-21 June in partnership with the UNESCO Caribbean Cluster Office and with support from the Caribbean Broadcasting Union.

Why social media?

Digital tools are changing the ways in which journalists find, tell and share their stories beyond the control of state borders. Social media has become a useful and powerful journalistic tool, opening new ways of gathering and disseminating information, finding sources and getting opinions from the public. Yet, besides the benefits, social media also has its dangers and downsides; new technologies can lead to the proliferation of misreported and unverified information.

The ease of instant messaging and posting can often lead to unverified, insulting, harmful or even libellous comments, which can instantly gain a global reach. Social media can easily amplify the effects of any ethical misjudgments we might make. There are many instances of media professionals who have had their reputations harmed or even lost their jobs due to a careless tweet or Facebook post.

On the information side, social media allows for the speedy discovery and dissemination of newsworthy material.  It allows for a dialogue between listeners and viewers and the producers of content, replacing what was once a one-way, top-down conversation.

Social media also helps media organisations to build relationships with their audience, allowing them to participate and feel a part of the conversation.
Yet, social media platforms are also full of rumors, unsubstantiated claims and simple falsehoods. Bad information can go viral quickly as recent “fake news” has shown. Media organisations now struggle to act as gatekeepers, deciding what is communicated to whom and what is not, while individuals increasingly access information directly from primary sources rather than traditional news providers. Yet, despite the increase in choice for the audience, a key problem is how to distinguish useful information from the ‘noise’.

Therefore, media outlets, their journalists and editors must be careful about their use of social media. The spreading of false reports or the use of unverified sources can severely damage a media organisation’s credibility, reputation and brand.

This workshop and meeting will seek to address these issues and allow the participants to contribute to an invaluable and relevant resource for other media workers across the Caribbean region.

The workshop will be opened by the CEO of Public Media Alliance, Sally-Ann Wilson and Doug Hoyte, General Manger Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation as well as a dignitary from the UNESCO Caribbean Cluster office.

The call for applications for this workshop has now closed. For more information and media enquiries email

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Header image: PMA trainees receiving certificates for participating in our 2016 investigative journalism course with UNESCO