Twenty Caribbean journalists were exposed last week to advanced training that will sharpen their investigative skills and better equip them to defend the democratic principles of their various countries, all of them being Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
The training explored investigative journalism in the digital age, and is supported by UNESCO’s Cluster Office for the Caribbean, and the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). It is being executed in partnership with the largest global association of public service broadcasters, the Public Media Alliance, as well as the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) and the Caribbean Production Training Centre (CPTC).
Speaking at the launch of the three-day workshop, UNESCO’s Advisor for Communication and Information, Isabel Viera, urged journalists to uphold the rights of freedom of the press and freedom of information as they are foundations for protecting all other human rights.
She reminded the journalists that, “the role the media can play as a watchdog is important for democracy, and it is for this reason that UNESCO fully supports initiatives like this Caribbean workshop that can enhance the investigative skills of journalists, throughout the world”. “This workshop will also enable and enhance the exchange of good practices and networking in investigative journalism throughout the Caribbean,” she added.
The revolutionary impact of social media on the work of investigative journalists was a key feature of the training. The journalists, who hailed from 11 countries across the Caribbean region, had hands-on exposure to issues of digital literacy to assist them in cultivating online sources and new methods of message delivery on social media networks. Key note speaker at the launch was Dr Marcia Forbes, who is a Jamaican scholar. Dr Forbes cautioned journalists to be professional in the use of the media in the digital age, especially social media.
The workshop also covered topics such as environmental databases, use of spreadsheets and numbers, freedom of information acts and data analysis. It will be followed by a five-week online course.
The training, delivered mainly by Professor Brant Houston, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois, focused on best practices in the use of data and digital tools to uncover stories that can be a catalyst for social change. The online course that will follow the workshop will be also conducted by Professor Houston.
Steffon Campbell, a lecturer at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies, served as a facilitator for the training workshop.
Jabari Fraser, a broadcast journalist with CCN TV6 in Trinidad and Tobago, said, “Hopefully I can take the skills I gather here back to Trinidad and Tobago to do some good work.”