Caribbean journalists participating in a one-week intensive Multimedia Training Course say they now have a better appreciation for technology and how it could be used in their daily work.
After two days into the course which deals with, among other things, the effective use of internet in information storage and research, Shabna Ullah of Stabroek News in Guyana said she is now more aware of things online that would make her life as a journalists a lot easier.
“When I came here it was amazing to know that there are so many things that you can do with Google and Facebook and Twitter, it has helped me a lot and I hope that when I go back I can share it with my colleagues and use it in my job and probably enhance my social networking skills.”
Her country colleague Andrew Woolford, who works with Capitol News, has been utilizing many of the internet tools in his daily duties as a reporter but said the course has helped him to understand more.
“There was some information that I didn’t know; there was some information that I knew about but never explored.”
Andrew said he understands better the techniques in writing for the web so that his article would be “Google friendly” and as such it would be easier for people to find his stories in regular searches.
The course which is being funded by the British High Commission Office in Barbados is being attended by 14- journalists from across the Caribbean.
The multimedia course deals with essential listening tools, social media work flow, curation, online writing, photography, video and live blogging. At the end of the 6-day training, participants would receive certificates.
Course Facilitator journalist in Dan Mason of the Thomson Foundation told Best Media the real journey begins when the course ends. He said success of the course could only be measured by how effective the journalist is in connecting with their communities, using the tools they are being equipped with.
“At the end of the day, it could only be the journalists themselves who could be the judge of how relevant it is but more importantly, the way in which they use some of the tools and techniques to help improve communication between their own communities.”
But amidst the excitement of learning new tools and how to use them, there is concern that newsroom make up in the Caribbean may not allow some of these journalists to practice what they have learned, given constraints of time and resources.
Darcel Choy of Newsday Newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago said her challenge would be time.
“When I go to work I don’t have the time to go on the internet. Hopefully I’ll be able to do the two when I get back and convince my editor to allow everyone to use it.”
At the start of the training, earlier this week, the journalists were called upon by renowned Barbadian journalist Harold Hoyte, to use the tools of the evolving technology to ply their trade.
“With the new media and the immediacy with which technology delivers, we are slowly discovering a greater Caribbean awareness and commonality.
“You would most likely be a failure as a professional journalist if you do not equip yourselves to deal with today’s Caribbean reality.”
Hoyte reminded the journalists of the power that they wield and encouraged them to use that power responsibly.
“You are in a position to assist decision makers as never before. You can reach all persons of relevance in any given situation and encourage, even influence their reaction. This is awesome power and must not be lightly used.”