Press needs protection in ‘fake news’ world

| 03/05/2019 | 30 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights, said António Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations in his message on World Press Freedom Day, which this year is focusing on the relationship between the press and democracy. Here at Cayman News Service we have noticed a decline in the relationship between the local press and government. In recent years criticism by elected leaders has increased and they engage far less with reporters directly. But in his message marking the day Cayman Islands Governor Martyn Roper offered his support for the local media.

Though government leaders are more likely in the current environment to see journalists as antagonists, Roper stressed the importance of understanding that the press underpins democracy and that it should not be seen as an adversary.

Here in Cayman, there are no more regular press briefings and most journalists here agree that our leaders are increasingly less likely to engage directly with reporters. They now depend largely on controlled press releases and social media to communicate with the electorate, avoiding situations where they would be required to answer questions directly from journalists. Press inquiries to leaders are increasingly ignored and as a result the truth is harder to verify.

However, Cayman does have a free press.

Although the sector has myriad challenges in the modern environment, as it does around the world, journalists here are not jailed or physically and routinely intimidated or harassed.

While the criticism has increased and calls of ‘fake news’ are now common, not least because of the influence of the American President Donald Trump, accurate and truthful reporting is alive and well in Cayman, and compared with many places around the world where members of the press are increasingly in real danger, local reporters do not live in fear.

But it is important that the public and journalists themselves remain vigilant to challenges to their freedom of speech because what may be name calling and cries of fake news today can deteriorate to something far worse tomorrow if the principles of a free and independent media are not protected.

Around the world, at least 99 journalists and media workers were killed in 2018, making it the deadliest year for journalists since the UN began keeping records. This is an increase of 15% on 2017 figures.

It is estimated that around 350 journalists are currently in detention, with another 60 held hostage, and journalists in many countries are being targeted in an effort to control their reporting. Almost 1,000 members of the media have been killed in the last decade, with nine out of ten cases remaining unsolved.

In his message marking the day, Governor Roper said that one of the top priorities of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office was to push the media freedom agenda forward.

“Having a global spotlight shone on these kind of issues helps raise international awareness,” Roper said. “Here in the Cayman Islands we are fortunate to have a lively and vibrant media. The media have an important responsibility for integrity and accuracy. A free media protects our right to speak out and our right to information. It enables society to be free, fair and open and can be the foundation for economic prosperity.

“It is important that we continue to see the media as underpinning the values of democracy and not as an adversary,” he warned.

The UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has launched an international campaign, “Defend Media Freedom”. On 10-11 July this year the first ever global ministry-led media freedom conference will take place in London.

See UNESCO: 2019 World Press Freedom Day: Journalism in Times of Disinformation

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Comments (30)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Nail hit on the head, CNS! Human rights is a “viewpoint” to those opposed to the same freedoms they enjoy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Only people who are truly lazy don’t search out the truth. Someone very close to me still to this day believes Obama had a secret love child while married to Michelle. It was a fake story probably put out by Russian trolls but she believes it. One google search could clear that up. Try and do you’re own research, or is that too hard now?

  3. William Rees-Mogg says:

    IF a news agency/publisher/web-site that only disseminated fact with no opinion whatsoever were to appear I would support ‘press freedom’ but that situation certainly does not exist in the Cayman Islands and so to my mind there does need to be some form of restriction on ‘news’ reporting.
    Both CNS and the Compass continually push their own viewpoints, from opposite sides of the political spectrum. The free Cayman Times is the closest we have to genuine unbiased reporting.

    • Anonymous says:

      William Rees-Mogg Sir you have hit the nail squarely on the head..Since the change of ownership at the Compass a few years ago the tone has been increasingly anti Caymanian. So much so that most people I know no longer buy it. In the beginning CNS was so out there that I wondered if XXXX was the driving force. Later it became more fair minded in its reporting but now has taken a more Compasslike much so it seems that comments section is dominated by expat posters. Apparently locals don’t like the tone and stay away.

      CNS: Re: XXXX – no, the only driving forces of CNS are the two owners, and I don’t think our approach to reporting has changed. Perhaps it is our position on a particular issue that you have decided is “anti-Caymanian”.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Yes CNS , there’s a problem with wanting to talk to Reporters, and the big International News Organizations caused it . Who wants to give a Reporter a story and before it’s published it is all twisted and made into what the Editor want published. .
      That is I am seeing today .

    • Anonymous says:

      Reporting is never unbiased you dolt, every story ever written or uttered is filled with the perceivable and unnoticed biases of the author(s) and the publisher

      The point of the media is not to never have an opinion
      Objectivity does not equate neutrality
      As long as an outlet is honest about their perspective

      People are not zombies that need to be spoon fed neutral drivel they can read

      You can have an opinion and still report credible news
      Outlets need to be transparent and open with their opinions so that readers can read stories and come to their own conclusions

    • Anonymous says:

      11:34, An accurate last sentence, lovely paper.

  4. Anonymous says:

    For any pleeb bookmarking CNN, USAtoday, or Fox News online, the cursor arrow pinwheels as the site reads their browser history, cache, and cookies, sends it to “Taboola” or other traffic-driver, and decides what clickbait Slideshows, Advertorials, and Paid Content to serve up as “news” within the browser window, seemingly without any journalism standards or vetting, and despite over two years of their own editorial coverage and criticisms of so-called, “fake news” and “fact checking”. Fox news headline today reads, “FAKE NEWS FAIL”, meanwhile Taboola serves up, “Americans Furious After Iraqi Wins Huge US Jakcpot”…

  5. Anonymous says:

    This particular Freedom, and the prevailing assumption of a global pursuit of truth, is now commonly parried by any bad actor with a keyboard and an internet connection. At this point in history, there should be universal global accreditation standards for credible news agencies willing to adhere to strict and verified codes of conduct, like the pursuit of truth, and refusing ad-dollars from clickbait abusers. These “clean” news sources should be given top priority on search engines. Yet, election and truth tampering remains too commercially appealing and easy. Disposable boiler room media influencers, acting for others, continue to alter the perceptions of fickle targeted audiences willing to blindly accept or bend to every unaffiliated clickbait link they are served, falsely believing these are credible. It’s big business and all the mainstream global news agencies are complicit in serving these for any green dollar, regardless of origin, intent, and/or consequence. USA media sources need to be called out and shamed for their part in abetting the industry they half-heartedly complain about!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Ben Shapiro on this…the Media needs to turn down the dial on the rhetoric and turn up the dial on fact checking. The only reason ‘fake news’ keeps being called out is because of all the ‘Blockbuster’ news stories presented as fact before the full background is checked…(Jussie Smollett, Covington boys etc)…That’s why Trump is always having a field day…more fact checking before sensationalizing would stop Trump in his tracks ! I don’t feel this is so much an issue in Cayman but the principal is worth bearing in mind.

    • Anonymous says:

      No fact checking will ever stop that idiot. He ignores facts and pushes the fakest news of them all, Fox.

      • Anonymous says:

        12.12 pm That’s totally irrelevant to the argument – we’re not talking about Ben Shapiro presenting the news, were talking about him simply stating that the Media especially the CNN’s etc need to check the facts before they present an untrue statement. He would say the same thing to Fox needs if that was the case.
        Talk about ‘the kettle calling….’ – idiot ? – you wouldn’t last 5 minutes with him.

        • Anonymous says:

          You’re right, I couldn’t stand to listen to his nonsense for longer than a minute. What a fool.

          • Anonymous says:


          • Anonymous says:

            That’s usually the type of stock answer made by a moron who doesn’t have any valuable argument anyway, just one-line insults for which he doesn’t have a basic theory. If he’s a fool, I would cringe at seeing what that makes you. The only thing I will give you if we’re talking about Shapiro is that his voice is irritating and funnily enough, he openly admits that himself -which is honesty. If it’s Trump, same thing applies – he just likes winding people up by trolling them – but that doesn’t make him a fool. Perhaps you’re judging by your own standards,

      • Anonymous says:

        Whether you’re talking about Trump or Shapiro, this doesn’t change the argument – It’s the Media who are presenting the News that need to check their facts. If Trump or Shapiro are feeding them Duff information then they owe it to themselves not to publish it or THEY look like ‘fake-news’ or ‘idiots’ (to coin your word) not their sources – doesn’t matter whether it’s Trump or Shapiro you’re talking about.

    • Anonymous says:

      What makes it worse is when the Media discover their mistake, they then ‘spin’ the story with lies or a different ‘agenda’ in a bid to deflect, or reduce collateral damage. This only compounds the problem and makes them look even more like ‘fake news’ because that’s essentially what they are declaring themselves to be. Just saying ‘sorry, we got it wrong’ and biting the bullet…will go a long way to avoid being named as ‘fake news’ and keep your ratings ahead of the Food Channel.

  7. Trust but verify says:

    Don’t shoot the messenger but do check the source. All media is a potential platform to push someone’s agenda whether it be benevolent or malevolent. That said, most of what CIG puts out these days is either to deflect from the real issues or is entirely fake.

  8. G.F. says:

    CNS you say “While the criticism has increased and calls of ‘fake news’ are now common, not least because of the influence of the American President Donald Trump”. Trump is only stating a fact that in the US there is a massive media bias and most main stream media outlets DO fabricate fake news to push their handlers agenda. CNS is part of Cayman’s “Free Press” but you also have a “Left Leaning” agenda and choose to report on a lot of things that can be proven to be fake news. I personally have no problem with it because I’m awake and can see through the thin veneer of controlled reporting to push ones agenda. In time, when the masses wake up, the truth will become veritas and the corrupt news media outlets will fall making way for true freedom and truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Trump was elected because his followers ate up the fake news he dished out on Fox which was setup originally as a right wing leaning news source.Let’s see what they feed us with the Venezuela crisis and punishing Cuba but laying quietly with Putin.You cannot deny facts my friend your boy is a lying coward.

    • Anonymous says:

      G.F I hope you realize that Faux News Channel tops the list. In fact they are not really a news reporting group but rather they are a news generating or propaganda outlet for the Republican Party extremists.

      • G.F. says:

        I didn’t name any news channels as they are all controlled. Any outlet subsidized by big pharma, Soros, or any other mired of political influenced organizations will end up dictating what we will see and hear. Anything mainstream is propaganda or controlled opposition.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for pointing this out G.F., CNS’ “left leaning” bias has been showing for quite a while now.
      BTW the difference between CNN and FOX is that FOX doesn’t pretend to be objective.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You’re not the worst and your agenda is not hidden, so we have that to be thankful for.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why should we believe this article? Where is the proof?

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