Over-subscribed! Journalists in Saint Kitts and Nevis flock to UNESCO social media workshop

Seventy-two participants from Saint Kitts and Nevis participated in the UNESCO social media training workshop for young journalists and media professionals, which took place in Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis from 14 to 16 May 2019.

The workshop was organized by the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean through funding from UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC), in collaboration with the Saint Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO, the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus and the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM). The main aim of the workshop was to strengthen the capacities of the participants in effective use of social media. It also provided a review of the Social Media Guidelines for Caribbean journalists, which were recently published by the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean in partnership with the Public Media Alliance (PMA).

The workshop was officially opened by Shawn Richards, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, with responsibility for UNESCO Affairs, of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Minister Richards encouraged the journalists and media professionals “to participate fully in the workshop because trained journalists support the country's development”. He also declared that “both public and private sector media entities must keep abreast of the ever growing changes in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to ensure effective and efficient use of media.”

Also speaking at the opening ceremony, National Programme Officer for Communication and Information, Erika Walker reminded the journalists “to uphold high standards of journalism and ethical behaviour in their use of social media, as journalists are the guardians of democracy.” Ms Walker also congratulated the journalists throughout the Caribbean for their invaluable work and cautioned them to acknowledge the possible risks involved in using social media. She encouraged them to refer to the UNESCO/Public Media Alliance Social Media Guidelines for the Caribbean when in doubt.

Similarly, President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) Anika Kentish congratulated the journalists of Saint Kitts and Nevis for their keen interest in the workshop and encouraged them to maintain a high level of ethical standards in the digital age.

Throughout the workshop, invaluable contributions were made by veteran journalists and trainers Wesley Gibbings and Anika Kentish of ACM, who both shared their wealth of experience in journalism in the Caribbean, on how social media was changing the media landscape in the region. Topics covered by the trainers included the Journalism of Verification; Social Media for Feedback; Social Media and the Law; Social Media and the Commercial Agenda and Social Media and Journalism Ethics.

Participants were very grateful of the opportunity to participate in the workshop, and thanked the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, the Saint Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO and the University of the West Indies, Open Campus for supporting and organizing the workshop. Patrick Howell, a participant from the island of Nevis praised the workshop as very timely: “The Information was instructive, easy to understand and provided a clear path forward for journalists in Saint Kitts and Nevis, who are navigating through today’s social media landscape in order to do their jobs.” Oksana Isaac, a participant from the island of Saint Kitts said, “I am honored to share space with individuals so well versed in journalism.”

Secretary-General for the Saint Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO, Antonio Maynard thanked UNESCO’s Cluster Office for the Caribbean, the University of the West Indies, Open Campus, and the Association for Caribbean Media Workers for the fruitful partnership. He was pleased to see the high number of subscribed participants as well as their enthusiasm and engagement while learning about current issues relating to the effective use of social media in journalism.”