World Press Freedom Day – 2024

Written by on May 3, 2024

In today’s world, the spectre of climate change looms large, casting its shadow across every corner of the globe. Its effects are undeniable and often devastating, manifesting in extreme weather events such as droughts, hurricanes (which, notably, are not a direct threat in Guyana), and floods. Yet, amidst the sea of data and facts surrounding this crisis, many struggle to grasp its true implications. It’s the stories – the personal narratives of those directly impacted by climate change – that truly illuminate its urgency and importance. Journalists, armed with courage, dedication, and a commitment to truth, play a pivotal role in bringing these stories to light. They serve on the frontlines of our collective battle for a healthier planet and a more sustainable future. On this World Press Freedom Day, let’s honour and celebrate their invaluable contribution to our understanding and action on this critical issue.

This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day, “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of Environmental Crisis,” underscores the crucial role of journalism in addressing global environmental challenges. At a recent panel discussion hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister, Minister Robert Morgan, Jamaica’s Minister of Information, highlighted the delicate balance between misinformation and disinformation in today’s media landscape. With the pervasive influence of social media, Minister Morgan emphasized the importance of critically assessing the sources and motivations behind information shared online. He cautioned against the tendency for sensationalized or biased narratives to gain traction, particularly those critical of government actions. In light of these challenges, there’s a clear call for journalists to uphold the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in their reporting, ensuring that facts are rigorously verified and presented free from bias.

President Irfaan Ali, in a recent interview with BBC World News’ Hard Talk, highlighted Guyana’s remarkable achievement in environmental conservation. He proudly stated that Guyana boasts the lowest rate of deforestation globally, maintaining this commendable record for several years. Notably, Guyana holds the distinction of being the first country to receive carbon credits from Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART), a program tailored for both voluntary and compliant carbon markets. These credits acknowledge Guyana’s successful efforts in preventing forest loss and degradation. The government remains steadfast in its advocacy for greater recognition of countries’ forest conservation endeavours, advocating for the establishment of systems that facilitate compensation for such crucial contributions.

Below are the accounts of three journalists who participated in the panel discussion organized by the Prime Minister’s office at the Pegasus Hotel.

Shaquawn Gill, Journalist

“Joining the media has been the best decision I’ve ever made. February of this year marked my fourth year of being a part of the press and playing an active role in disseminating information through the written and spoken word. I have the opportunity to reflect on the difficulties of the profession, its demanding nature, and how I’ve been able to balance a job like this with being the President of an institution that has 10,000+ constituents, among other roles. I am grateful for those individuals who have supported me, but most of all, corrected me. I have been blessed to have stalwarts in my path who have been able to guide me in the right direction. I have come to learn that character is not a product of circumstance, but is rather the thing that survives despite it. Regardless of the challenges, I wouldn’t change any of this for the world. I could type an essay on the role of the media and the role of consumers of media—but I guess that’s a conversation for another day. Happy World Press Freedom Day.”

Mia Anthony, Journalist

“Becoming a journalist wasn’t just a career choice; it felt like a calling. My passion for writing and creating informative video content was deeply rooted in my childhood, where I devoured books like Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery books. This fascination transitioned into a love for true crime documentaries and TV shows such as “Suits,” “Matlock,” and “Law and Order: SVU.” Journalism is often hailed as a platform for amplifying the voices of the marginalized, a sentiment I wholeheartedly endorse. However, I also view journalism as a means to hasten the narratives of those typically disregarded or overshadowed.

I take pride in my commitment to unveiling impactful stories, often delving into places others might shy away from to unearth hard-hitting truths.

Journalists serve as esteemed storytellers, tasked with educating the public. Thus, ensuring the dissemination of factual and precise information should stand as the cornerstone of any journalist’s integrity.

Enabling journalists with access to accurate environmental data, coupled with guidance on interpreting such information, is paramount. Transparency within various environmental sectors, including institutions like the Ministry of Natural Resources, and facilitating entry to environmental forums, are crucial steps toward achieving this goal.”

Shamar Meusa, Journalist

“I began my journey in the field of Journalism almost seven years ago driven by a sincere commitment to uphold the sacred tenets of truth and accuracy. Throughout my career I have aimed to serve and diligently bridge the gap between information and the public, ensuring that what is disseminated remains reliable and keeps the populace well informed.
As we observe this year’s World Press Freedom Day with the theme, “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis” I believe that as members of the press, we must take on the responsibility of not just reporting but also become advocates for environmental awareness and action.
Our role in disseminating accurate information about environmental challenges and solutions fosters global understanding and spurs collective action for a sustainable future. Much attention must be placed on matters concerning environmental challenges even as we learn from mistakes of the past to create a brighter tomorrow.”

Story by Nygil Drepaul


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