10.05.2012 - UNESCO

Social media is an opportunity for journalism: World Press Freedom Day celebrated in Kingston

Sandrea Falconer, Information Minister of Jamaica - © UNESCO

“Rather than seeing social media as a threat, it should be embraced as something that is complementary to the work of the journalist, and more use should be made of the facility for development and progress,” said the Information Minister of Jamaica, Sandrea Falconer, in her address at the celebration of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2012 in Kingston, Jamaica.

Declaring that governments must stay connected to the people, Ms Falconer said, “We have to use social media as one of the new voices for transforming our society. By challenging ourselves to use social media, we will allow more people to participate in our democracy." She added that the Government of Jamaica was formulating an appropriate social media policy to more effectively engage ordinary Jamaicans in decision-making.

The celebration of World Press Freedom Day was organized jointly by the UNESCO Kingston Office, the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), Women Media Watch, and the Caribbean Media and Communication Institute (CARIMAC) under the theme, New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies in the Caribbean.

The one-day celebration was made up of panel discussions on media freedom, new and social media revolution, voice of youth, and access to information. The event was intended to increase awareness about the value of press freedom in the democratic processes in the Caribbean, to enhance the use of social networks in journalistic activities, and to improve the presence of youth voices in the Caribbean media. The event brought together journalists, media workers, academics and policy makers from seven Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Curacao, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and Grenadians.

UNESCO Representative, Kwame Boafo, conveyed the joint World Press Freedom Day message from the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova. The message emphasised that “freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights” as it “underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity”.

3 May was designated World Press Freedom Day by the United Nations to raise awareness and promote the importance of freedom of the press, and to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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