Left to right: Thomas A. Hennick, Emanuela Palmares and Dr. Steeve Coupeau. .
Stratford, CT-In celebration of World Press Freedom Day, the UNESCO Center for Global Friendship,Inc.(UCGF)organizedlastnightatthe Stratford Library a public forum that examined several issues pertaining to the practice of journalism. The specific theme was “Media for Democracy: The Relevance of Community Journalism in Times of Disinformation.”
A panel of distinguished media scholars and information specialists critically reflected on The State of Freedom of Information in Connecticut; The Contributions of Ethnic Media to American Democracy; and The Efficient Use of New Media for Human Rights.
The guest speakers included Thomas A. Hennick, a public information officer for The Freedom of Information Commission; Emanuela Palmares, a member of the Danbury Board of Education and the Editor and Partner of Tribuna Newspaper, a monthly publication in English, Portuguese, and Spanish; and Dr. Steeve Coupeau who holds a Ph.D. in Political Science, owns Nyiha Media that can be found on at www.nyiha.com, and has published an impressive body of work in French, Spanish and English on the history of Haiti, human rights matters and ethnic studies.
Hennick elaborated on the mission of the Commission, which is basically to “ensure citizen access to the records and meetings of public agencies in the State of Connecticut.” He pointed out, among many other things, that The Freedom of Information Commission favors a non-punitive approach to reach its goals. Hennick also touched on some loopholes of the FOIA, and procedural differences that exist between the handling of Freedom of Information requests in Connecticut and at federal level.
Palmares described eloquently the personal sacrifices and critical thinking that it takes to establish Tribuna as a respected community-oriented newspaper. Her mother, Celia Bacelar, started this journey by launching the first issue of Tribuna in 2000. Pamares recalled fondly how at 13 years old she was already involved with the newspaper as was her older sister Elizabeth. Their efforts to use their trilingual publication as an organiz- ing tool to champion the welfare of local immigrants were very often misunderstood at the beginning. The accomplishments of Tribuna Newspaper show clearly that ethnic media are indeed agent of education, acculturation and democracy reinvigoration.
Dr.Coupeau’s presentation focused on the technologies that inform news productions, and some technical considerations journalists often overlook. He particularly recom- mended Google Trends, Reddit, and CrowdTangle as tools that empower objective reporting of accurate news.
The questions and comments that the presentations generated showed clearly that cerned
about the freedom of information and the future of the press.
Angelucci Manigat, Jr., the Executive Director of the UNESCO Center for Global Friendship, Inc., was clearly satisfied with the discussions, which he described as civil and thought-provoking.
“Throughout the year, we conduct informative gatherings such as this one to foster a culture of peace, mutual respect, intercultural dialogue and friendship in the communities that we serve,” Manigat explained.
For Sheri Szymanski, the Stratford Library director, “Working with the UCGF to celebrate World Press Freedom Day was a great opportunity to highlight our common mission of empowering our community by providing access to information and a diversity of ideas.”
UNESCO Center for Global Friendship, Inc. is a Stratford-based tax-exempt organization that provides educational materials and professional assistance to libraries in the Caribbean and Latin America, and helps develop free cultural programs for libraries in United States.