Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Embracing New Media

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World Press Freedom Day 2012

May 3, 2012

Observance of World Press Freedom Day 2012 provides the Caribbean with an opportunity to take stock of its progress as a region in which rights and freedoms are held to be fundamental pillars of the development process.

This day focuses exclusively on freedom of expression, under whose cover freedom of the press permanently resides.

Though we have generally escaped the worst impacts of impunity, violence and official aggression, Caribbean social communicators and journalists have not eluded the potentially muting impacts of self-censorship, unenlightened regulation and challenging economic, social and political circumstances.

For this reason, our advocates are often minded to craft unique responses to unique conditions and to influence international discourse on such subjects on an unprecedented scale - not to build a deceptive, relativistic case as obtains in some territories in our region, but to help light the path to fundamental rights and freedoms in a changing region and world.

In this context, the theme of this year’s observances - New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies – is entirely appropriate as a reflection of the requirements of Caribbean development and change.

As relatively new nations, Caribbean societies have also, in many respects, been the new hemispheric voices of the past 50 years. We are now called upon to be more aware of the new voices within our midst.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova have asked the world to pay greater attention to the new players on the media stage and are urging greater recognition of and protection for new media practitioners. Indeed, these new social communicators are increasingly attracting the attention of enemies of the free press and, in some parts of the world, are being targeted for persecution to a much greater degree.

We must work to ensure the platform we share as both traditional and new media workers remains untouched by the hands of official censorship and that journalistic principles are promoted as common values among us all.

On this important day, the ACM urges its national affiliates to pay greater attention to building institutional capacity, engaging a wider cross-section of the communication industry, working more assiduously to promote the reform of media-related laws and operating as fearlessly independent agents of awareness and the change it brings. Those organisations that are in crisis must be rescued and those that are asleep must awaken. This is a sacred responsibility we ignore at our peril.

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