02.06.2008 -

Young Caribbean journalists benefit from ACM/UNESCO projects

Ten young Caribbean journalists are benefiting from the skills and experience of leading regional practitioners under a mentoring programme being executed by the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), under the umbrella of the Caribbean Network of Young Journalists (CNYJ). The journalists were 'paired' at an orientation workshop hosted by the ACM in Trinidad from 23 to 24 May 2008.

The pilot project, funded in part by UNESCO, will span a period of 12 months. It brings journalists from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago in ongoing contact with each other.


Mentors and their 'associates' have been paired across national borders. During the workshop, they explored various means of collaboration and discussed issues such as current journalistic standards in the Caribbean and ways deficiencies can be addressed.


Renowned Trinidad and Tobago journalist and author, Raoul Pantin, also spoke on his career as a journalist. The young associates were given copies of his autobiographical account as a hostage during the 1990 coup d'etat in Trinidad entitled 'Days of Terror' published earlier this year.


Project Manager of the ACM/CNYJ Mentoring Programme, Clare Forrester, said she was "delighted to be a part of this dynamic initiative designed to help sharpen the tools and techniques of young journalists." "Unquestionably, this kind of mentoring training can make a huge difference to the credibility of information reported in the media," she added.


Work has also begun on an Elections Handbook for Caribbean Journalists which, as ACM President Wesley Gibbings put it, "has the potential to increase the capacity of young journalists to improve the coverage of elections by leaps and bounds."


Work on the handbook is being led by veteran Trinidad and Tobago journalist/media trainer, Lennox Grant. Other members of the handbook team are Vernon Daley (Jamaican journalist/media law lecturer), Sheila Velez Martinez (Puerto Rican law professor) and Wesley Gibbings. Assistance in researching the handbook is being received from the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) office for the Caribbean in Port of Spain.


Gibbings said the handbook will "reside alongside our climate change handbook as an example of how the ACM has been able to intervene meaningfully in the process of improving the quality of journalism in the Caribbean." He said multimedia technologies will be employed in making the handbook more accessible to all Caribbean journalists and to ensure that "in every Caribbean newsroom there will be an ACM Elections handbook."


Forrester added: "The ACM should be encouraged, applauded and supported by all who are committed to a healthy and credible media climate so crucially important to sustaining a democratic environment and the long-term development of the countries in our region."

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