The Barbados Association of Journalists and Media Workers (BARJAM) has called on Government to recognize the hard work of persons in that field during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is hoped that when Government holds its second round of Humanitarian awards, media workers will be among those honoured, the group said.
In a statement released to mark World Press Freedom Day, BARJAM contended that media workers worked tirelessly during the pandemic and should be rewarded for their efforts.
“The last two years have seen the media in Barbados, especially our front-line workers; reporters, journalists, photographers and videographers having to work under very trying circumstances with smaller newsrooms, increased workloads, longer hours and of course, doing all of this with the COVID-19 cloud hanging over their heads daily as they went about their jobs.
“It is for this reason that we remain hopeful that when the Government hosts its second round of Humanitarian Awards, all front-line media persons across the landscape of Barbados will be recognised and rewarded for their dedication in keeping the public informed and educated during the early period of the COVID-19 virus,” BARJAM said in its press release.
BARJAM also appealed to Government to move with alacrity in passing the Freedom of Information Act, which it said would provide more support to media workers.
It said the proposed legislation had been bandied about since 2016 and called for it to be passed before the end of the current sitting of the Parliament.
“BARJAM would also wish to use this occasion to highlight that among the needs of a free press, is access to information and today we make a renewed call for the Freedom of Information Act to be finally passed in Barbados.
“In 2016, the bill was widely circulated to secure the views and feedback from various interest groups and a wide cross-section of the society. There was also discussion on the draft legislation with the general public through several strategic town hall meetings,” BARJAM stated.
“As recently as 2019, during a BARJAM Annual General Meeting, journalists were promised a Freedom of Information Act by Attorney General, Dale Marshall who at that time stated that this was needed to ensure that accurate information would be in the public domain and that transparency and good governance would allow citizens to have the almost unfettered access to information. And so, it is against this backdrop, and on this day of World Press Freedom, that BARJAM again calls on the Attorney General to give us the latest update on where his Ministry is with the draft, as we would like to see this Bill debated in Parliament before this sitting of the House is concluded.”
Efforts to reach the Attorney General for an update proved unsuccessful up to press time.
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres also used the occasion to highlight the importance of media workers and journalists across the world.
He lauded them for their efforts throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, saying they put their lives at risk to “provide accurate, science-based reporting,” which helped to save lives. (RB)