BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Media Institute of the Caribbean on Thursday lauded journalists, as the world observed World Press Freedom Day.
In a message to mark the day, the institute said that, with some exceptions, the Caribbean “remains a region that scores high on press freedom indexes”.
“Jamaica and, to a lesser extent, Trinidad, are still known as places where journalists can do their work without undue pressure from the authorities.
“That is not to say that journalists in the region don’t have their fair share of challenges. Journalists in several countries still work under the spectrum of defamation and libel laws that are punishable by imprisonment. Recent cyber crime Bills could have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and imperil journalists for simply doing their work.”
The institute noted that, in some cases, the threats to free expression are often not from overreaching officials or oppressive laws.
“Through their hefty advertising budgets, governments can buy the media in more ways than one.”
It said that in Trinidad and Tobago, Reporters Without Borders recently noted how media outlets regarded as favorable to the Government get the lion’s share of state advertising, adding that the practice in the twin-island nation is replicated in other Caribbean countries.
“Oftentimes, the major obstacle to free expansion is not a bad law or oppressive Government, but tight newsroom budgets that could restrict reporters from having the resources to pursue stories in the public interest.”
The Media Institute of the Caribbean says it has devoted itself to training journalists across the region in investigative journalism through workshops, mentoring, and engaging some of the top journalism trainers.
“We want to say heartfelt thanks to our supporters, the people in the Caribbean who fight for freedom of the press, and the hard-working journalists who believe in the search for truth.”