Alison Bethel-Mc Kenzie, former executive director of the International Press Institute, said on Friday that xenophobia is one of the major challenges confronting Caribbean media workers in the digital age.
“There needs to be a commitment to work across borders so that journalists in Trinidad work more closely with journalists in Jamaica, St Lucia,” she said.
“We have a culture of self-censorship. We have this culture of not airing our dirty laundry in public.”
Bethel-Mc Kenzie was speaking at the T&T Guardian’s Journalism In The Digital Age conference atHyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain. The event formed part of the newspaper’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
Other speakers were CNN’s Senior Vice-President, International Newsgathering, TV and Digital Deborah Rayner; former Los Angeles Times editor Davan Maharaj; Pete Clifton, of the UK Press Association; and former CNN anchor and journalist Jim Clancy.
Speaking on the topic, Original Journalism: Investigations, Data Mining and Crowd Sourcing, Bethel-McKenzie told a gathering of journalists, media owners and other stakeholders that the problem of xenophobia was compounded by the absence of whistleblower legislation and Freedom of Information laws in many Caribbean islands.
“There are no whistleblower laws and I can’t emphasise this enough, the information is not readily available because there is no Freedom of Information Act,” she said.
“And even in countries where there is a Freedom of Information Act, it is still not easy to get the information because having an effective Freedom of Information Act means employing people who know how to get the information.”