Association of Caribbean Media Workers lodges protest note with OAS Secretary General over exclusion from media initiative

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 June 2022, 10:06 by Writer

The Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) has strenuously objected to the Organisation of American States (OAS) sidelining of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in the creation of a Center for Media Integrity of the Americas that would supposedly benefit the region.

In a letter of protest to the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, the ACM welcomed the proposed centre but roasted the OAS for failing to engage with several regional media bodies.

“We are, however, concerned that as an institution to be “nested within the Organization of American States”, there has been absolutely no consultation on development of such a Center with leading professional associations, representative industry bodies and academic institutions active in the 15 CARICOM Member States of the OAS,” the ACM said. The ACM had hoped that those organisations, including itself, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Media Institute of the Caribbean (MIC), Caribbean School for Media and Communication (CARIMAC) and other bodies and academic institutions are longstanding, major contributors to media development in the Caribbean region would have been engaged in the formation of the centre.

In the past, member states have been lobbied intensely for a sub-regional bloc of votes for support of candidates for the post of OAS Secretary General.

The ACM also told the OAS Secretary General that Caribbean media policy and decision makers have been clearly shut out from the work of the proposed Centre for Media Integrity for the Americas. ”

“The ACM also notes that the composition of the Council of Advisors finds no space to accommodate the experience and expertise of eminent players in the conduct and development of Caribbean media. In our view, this does not augur well for the inclusivity required to ensure full hemispheric engagement, resilience, and success,” said the ACM in its letter dated June 16, 2022 and released to the public on June 20.

The ACM said it welcomed the the value of the hemispheric context of the centre, adding that it draws attention to democracy as being “unquestionably under siege in many countries throughout the Americas”, the contribution to the democratic process of “impartial, fact-based, news reporting and analysis”, and the need for “truly independent formal or informal” media and communicators.

“We fully agree with and support the rationale behind the Center’s establishment, its proposed mandate to financially incentivise “the practice of independent, non-interest affiliated journalism and social media production throughout the Americas”, and a plan to “expand its partnerships among journalists, media outlets, academia and NGOs throughout the Hemisphere,” the ACM said.

Stating that the ACM finds it “extremely regrettable that the Caribbean Community and some of its prized media and academic institutions have been ignored in an initiative of the Secretary General,” that regional media body appealed to Secretary-General Almagro to take urgent steps to fix the omission of the Caribbean in the centre’s establishment and decision-making mechanism.

“We can only assume, Secretary General, that you have been badly advised. We therefore bring this to your attention in good faith and without rancour, in the interest of ensuring that the Media Center is a success and that it meets all the requirements of a wider process that embraces the whole hemisphere as a space for collective action on behalf of all our people.,” said the ACM in its letter signed by General Secretary Harvey Panka.

The Caribbean’s voice is often smothered by the Latin American countries in many hemispheric and global decision-making bodies.