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Consultation Reveals Gaps in Media Regulation

(R-l) IPI's Bethel-McKenzie, MASL President Reynolds  and ACM's Gibbings

The need for continuous self-monitoring and adherence to journalistic standards was emphasised this past Saturday October 25, 2014 as media workers in Saint Lucia met to discuss self-regulation. The consultation was organised by the Association of Caribbean Media Workers as part of a United Nations Education, Social, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) programme and hosted by the Media Workers Association of Saint Lucia.

Executive Director of the International Press Institute (IPI) Alison Bethel-McKenzie and the General Secretary of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) Wesley Gibbings, led a vibrant discussion with the group that included media owners, editors, new and seasoned journalists and camerapersons. They engaged in guided discussion on the ideals of media regulation, the world view vis a vis what obtains in Saint Lucia and the gaps and possibilities for change.

In opening the session MASL president Clinton Reynolds noted there are many challenges media face as a fraternity and for the support and guidance of regional and international partner organisations are needed. “We face individual pressures, but …while we may choose to dismiss each individual attack, attempt at intimidation and other harassment in the conduct of our duties as insignificant, as they mount and become more frequent and concentrated, we see a greater undermining of the media.”

While advocating responsibility in the conduct of duties, Reynolds says, ““We have subjected ourselves to much self-regulation, some may call it self-censorship, because of fear of reprisals, loss of jobs and other deleterious effect upon us as professionals, and our profession. The consultation here today is part of the process of engendering the responsibility that we seek based on a series of standards that are mostly common in our Caribbean space.  Let’s not view self-regulation as censorship, per se. Rather, let’s look at it as a way of raising the bar and attending to international best practice and standards as professionals.”

Several gaps were identified in the execution of media work in Saint Lucia. While some were identified as features on the global media landscape, others were specific to Saint Lucia. The opportunities and options for change in country specific and international models were further explored.

A media professional operating as an independent media ombudsman on a country level or an independent regulatiry body that include media and non-media professionals were presented as possible options to enhance media regulation in Saint Lucia. The benefit of an active media association operating along stronger lines was brought to the fore during discussion. The session also highlighted that self-regulation cannot exists without a code of ethics. MASL has adopted the ACM’s code of ethics and Gibbings indicated that this will soon be under review.

This was one of four sessions across the region under an ACM project to develop a framework for media self-regulation in the Caribbean. Similar consultations have taken place or will take place in Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana.

The session was sponsored by Monroe College, Rex Saint Lucian Resort, Flavours of the Grill Restaurant and FLOW.  


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