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Friday, May 05, 2006 

'Caribbean citizens prefer to keep silent about media flaws'
Observer Reporter
Thursday, May 04, 2006

THE Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) has expressed concern over the "pattern of enforced silence" as the preferred method of addressing acknowledged professional shortcomings in the media, in the face of a changing social and technological landscape in the Caribbean.

"In too many instances. the absence of eternal vigil by our national communities has led to an erosion of the freedoms we have laboured to enjoy," ACM president Dale Enoch said in a message to mark World Press Freedom Day, yesterday.

"The ACM is attempting to address some areas of professional need and has reported several successful attempts over the past four years at raising standards in designated areas of media reportage.

"It is, however, true that journalists and their bosses in the region need to pay more attention to programmes of professional development. It is also true that in too many instances, some fall prey to the lure of political and commercial enticements. But it is also abundantly evident that the vast majority of Caribbean media professionals are committed to the highest standards and the pursuit of truth," Enoch said.

According to the ACM leader, criminal defamation remained on the statute books of states in the region with only rare objections, and broadcast media liberalisation was being accompanied by "anachronistic notions of information control and blatant attempts at censorship" with few detractors in sight.

"And, remedies for our perceived state of social chaos and disorder too often and too readily include prescriptions to abridge our freedoms," said the association.

But Enoch, a Trinidadian, said he was increasingly encouraged by the fact that many media workers in the region were beginning to display a greater willingness to unite and to become organised.

"Though some long-standing organisations teeter on the brink of imminent and total collapse, we have witnessed the birth and growth of new ones elsewhere," he said.

"Our wish on this important occasion (World Press Freedom Day) is to witness the achievement of a Caribbean media landscape that builds stronger bridges between the state and civil society, one capable of empowering the alienated and weak and making the difference between the flourishing of Caribbean society and the current threats to its viable existence," said Enoch.

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