Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Panel Discussion in honor of World Press Freedom Day
“Media literacy and countering disinformation”
George Walcott Lecture Theatre, University of Guyana
May 11, 2023
Dr. Paloma Mohamed-Martin, Vice Chancellor, University of Guyana
Denise A. Hopkinson, Director, Centre for Communication Studies, University of Guyana
Nazima Raghubir, President – Guyana Press Association,
Michella Abraham-Ali – Deputy Chief Executive Officer, National Communications Network
Enrico Woolford – Editor in Chief, Capitol News /EMW Communications
Leslie Sobers, Lecturer, Centre for Communication Studies, University of Guyana and moderator for today’s proceedings
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted for the opportunity to speak with you all today in honor of world press freedom. A very special thank you to Vice Chancellor Dr. Paloma- Mohamed-Martin for hosting us today and Ms. Denise Hopkinson for organizing the collaboration with the Embassy’s Public Affairs Office on this very important and timely topic – “Media literacy and countering disinformation.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s decision, proclaiming May 3 as the international day for press freedom.
After 30 years, however, much has changed in the world of media. The sheer volume of media available today is overwhelming. With the rise of digital technologies across the globe enabling the free flow of information online, it is imperative for all of us to assess the materials we consume to determine if the information shared is believable or misleading.
For the media to play its vital role in a democracy, it must be well-trained and hold itself to the highest professional standards. Press freedom is not just as an abstract policy, but a very practical skill that needs to be taught, nurtured, and promoted. The Embassy has been pleased over many years to be able to contribute to media training in Guyana and support the work of the University of Guyana Center for Communication Studies.
We believe a free press can empower individuals with more and better information about our world. We also recognize that freedom of the press requires citizens to bear the responsibility to always stop, reflect, and verify what they hear and see to prevent the spread of misinformation.
According to a recent study by Stanford University, many young people today have difficulty determining if the information they are receiving is real or not. The results highlight what the researchers say is an urgent need to better prepare students for the realities of a world filled with a continual flow of misleading information.
As you learn how to responsibly gather information, how to cultivate and manage reliable sources of information, and how to act ethically in collecting and disseminating information, you have an opportunity as influencers in your community. When you speak, when you share, people listen. As students pursuing communication and journalism studies, it is essential to uphold an ethical commitment to the truth and help stop the spread of misinformation.
Today, you have an opportunity to hear from a panel of respected and experienced journalists from the local media landscape who I know are committed to strengthening critical thinking and media literacy skills. I encourage you to ask questions to improve your own media literacy and how you can play your part in significantly reducing the likelihood of misinformation.
Thank you and please enjoy what is likely to be a very dynamic discussion.