The Barbados Broadcasting Authority (BBA) wishes to compliment local broadcasters in particular — and the traditional media on the whole — for the important role they have been playing in informing and educating Barbadians about the novel coronavirus – COVID-19.
In the absence of a vaccine against this serious virus which is wreaking havoc worldwide, factual information from trusted and reliable sources is the only effective weapon available to the average man and woman to protect themselves and their loved ones during the current pandemic.
Information is a source of knowledge which, in turn, is a source of power. Specifically, in this instance, the power to save lives through making the sensible choice of adopting sanitary practices which can save lives by containing the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 within our community.
The critical role of broadcasters in particular and the mainstream traditional media, in general, has been quite evident during this public health crisis. As trusted sources of factual information, they have served as an effective counterbalance to the misinformation being spread on social media.
During a crisis, especially when lives are at risk, people who are under threat look for reassurance and hope. By providing factual information, our broadcasters have served as agents of reassurance and hope.
By churning out lots of false information, some mischievous individuals on social media, in contrast, have been purveyors of needless panic and despair.
The abuse of social media underscores the need for citizens to acquire skills which allow them to critically evaluate information which comes into their hands to determine its authenticity. A good example is the bogus story about welfare cheques.
It turned out to be a hoax. Having media literacy skills is critical for effective citizenship in the 21st Century. The promotion of media literacy, especially in the context of this digital age, is an issue which has been engaging the attention of the Barbados Broadcasting Authority as it looks to transform the media landscape.
As our traditional way of life as we know it comes under a 24-hour shutdown, the media’s role as educator and informer comes centre stage. They have not failed to perform this role with distinction. Our reporters are also frontline workers who ensure they keep us informed and they deserve our respect as well as the many who keep presses rolling and all stations and media houses on air.
The media’s role, in developing countries such as ours, extends beyond commercial considerations. They are expected, as well, to contribute to national development.
The Barbados Broadcasting Authority accords high marks to our broadcasters for their performance during this present crisis in service to the nation.