In a covid19 era when constant updates can be overwhelming and sometimes misleading, President Paula-Mae Weekes, in her message to the media on World Press Freedom Day 2021, called on journalists to use the occasion to remember the importance of presenting transparent and accurate information.
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on May 3. The theme for 2021 is “Information as a Public Good.”
The day was first observed in 1994 after it was declared by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, on the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference.
Weekes said a “free and fair press is essential to combating the misinformation that threatens to hinder the response to the pandemic and hamper further social and economic recovery.
“Distorted data, conspiracy theories, and fake news, circulated at an astounding rate, have created widespread misunderstanding, confusion, and division regarding the health and safety protocols of the pandemic.”
She said because of this it is critical for journalists to fact-check, provide evidence-based analysis and break down scientific data into easily digestible formats.
“As the watchdogs of free speech, they must be vigilant in ensuring that their work adheres to the highest ethical and professional standards and strive to instil and restore confidence in their impartiality and commitment to serving the public interest.”
Weekes urged the public to ensure their sources of information are reliable and reputable before sharing.