Friday, 30 May 2008

Getting the Youngsters Prepared

Ten young Caribbean journalists are benefiting from the skill and experience of leading regional practitioners under a mentoring programme being executed by the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM), under the banner of the Caribbean Network of Young Journalists (CNYJ).

The journalists were ‘paired’ at an orientation workshop hosted by the ACM in Trinidad on May 23-24, 2008.

The pilot project, funded in part by the United Nations Educational Scientific Organisation (UNESCO), will span a period of 12 months. It brings journalists from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago in ongoing contact with each other.

Mentors and their “associates” have been paired across national borders. During the workshop, they explored various means of collaboration and discussed issues such as current journalistic standards in the Caribbean and ways deficiencies can be addressed.

Renowned Trinidad and Tobago journalist/author, Raoul Pantin, also spoke on his career as a journalist. The young associates were given complimentary copies of his autobiographical account as a hostage during the 1990 coup d’etat in Trinidad entitled ‘Days of Terror’ published earlier this year.

Project Manager of the ACM/CNYJ Mentoring Programme, Clare Forrester, said she was “delighted to be a part of this dynamic initiative designed to help sharpen the tools and techniques of young journalists.”

“Unquestionably, this kind of mentoring training can make a huge difference to the credibility of information reported in the media,” she said.

Work has also begun on an Elections Handbook for Caribbean Journalists which, ACM President Wesley Gibbings said, “has the potential to increase the capacity of young journalists to improve the coverage of elections by leaps and bounds.”

Work on the handbook is being led by veteran Trinidad and Tobago journalist/media trainer, Lennox Grant. Other members of the handbook team are Jamaican journalist/media law lecturer, Vernon Daley, Puerto Rican law professor, Sheila Velez Martinez and Gibbings.

Assistance in researching the handbook is being received from the United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean (UNIC) office for the Caribbean in Port of Spain. The editorial team met with UNIC Director, Angelica Hunt, on May 23.

Gibbings said the handbook will “reside alongside our climate change handbook as an example of how the ACM has been able to intervene meaningfully in the process of improving the quality of journalism in the Caribbean.”

He said multi-media technologies will be employed in making the handbook more accessible to all Caribbean journalists and to ensure that “in every Caribbean newsroom there will be an ACM Elections handbook.”

Forrester added: “The ACM should be encouraged, applauded and supported by all who are committed to a healthy and credible media climate so crucially important to sustaining a democratic environment and the long-term development of the countries in our region.”

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