Thursday, December 14, 2017

Trini journalist receives prestigious award

Wesley Gibbings


FRIDAY AUGUST 11 2017: PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - Trinidadian Newspaper Columnist, Freelance Journalist, Media Trainer and President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), Wesley Gibbings, will receive the prestigious National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) “Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist Award” at the NABJ Convention and Career Fair in New Orleans on August 11, 2017.

The award is in recognition of his work in the promotion of press freedom throughout the Caribbean.

It is named for the late Percy Peter Tshidiso Qoboza, editor of The World newspaper in Soweto, South Africa, whose powerful columns ranged from coverage of the 1976 Soweto riots to the tragic horror of apartheid and the white minority government's treatment of millions of black Africans.

Gibbings has been a journalist for over 35 years and is the founding President of the ACM which was established in 2001. He is also a former President of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT).

He has served on the Council of the International Freedom of Exchange (IFEX) and the inaugural Steering Committee of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD).

His journalistic career has spanned the broadcast and print media and his work has been published in newspapers and journals internationally.

Gibbings has written extensively on Caribbean media affairs and has presented papers on a wide range of subjects related to press freedom at conferences and seminars all over the world.
He has also edited and contributed to a number of journalistic handbooks and has served as visiting Lecturer at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica and as a Training Coordinator for the Media Development Authority of Fiji.

He is well known in Latin America and the Caribbean for his work on the promotion of press freedom and freedom of expression and is regularly cited on a variety of issues of concern to the media industry of the Caribbean. He has also been involved in journalism training programmes throughout the region.

Gibbings currently serves as a member of the Coordinating Committee of the IFEX Latin American and Caribbean Alliance.

He will be the second Caribbean recipient of the Percy Qoboza Award. Receiving the award in 2005 was MichèleMontas, a journalist from Haiti and the former Spokesperson under UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

About the ACM
The Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) is a network of journalists, media workers and media associations spanning the Caribbean Basin.

It was established in Barbados in 2001 and is currently headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago, under serving President Wesley Gibbings.

Its membership includes media professionals and their representative associations from countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dutch-speaking Caribbean.

It holds membership of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), ACP Press Clubs Federation and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and is represented on the Latin American and Caribbean Forum for Media Development.

The ACM has also been responsible for the publication of biennial State of the Caribbean Media Reports, an Election Handbook for Caribbean Journalists, Our Children, Our Media - Reporting Guidelines on the Coverage of Children and a Handbook for Caribbean Journalists on Climate Change.

The Association has also convened numerous training programmes on a wide variety of subjects throughout the Caribbean and is the region's premier organisation advocating for freedom of expression and press freedom.

AUGUST 11, 2017

Receiving this award is, for me, one of the more humbling experiences of my professional life. There are few greater tributes a journalist can receive to match the recognition of his or her peers.

I come before you as a Caribbean person, from a small twin-island state, whose ancestry finds roots on the shores of more than one continent. People who came either through force, subterfuge or by choice to a new home we now call our own.

I also come from a land of the freed engaged in a perpetual struggle to become the land of the free. Each step of the way confronting the compulsion, through post-colonial habit, to deny ourselves the freedom we have earned as human beings making our way in a vast universe. And in the process reframing Du Bois's rhetorical question: “How does it feel to be a problem?”

For the Caribbean journalist, our story is as much an explanation of 'why' things happen as it is an honest declaration of 'what' we confront as a people – both as the subjects and objects of history. For this reason, journalism in all its convergent manifestations and as the first draft of our story, is a singularly important imperative of our time and a free press one of our most valuable assets.

It is however amazing that as a people whose history emerges from institutionalised coercion, violence and bondage, that the freedom cry in the Caribbean should so tragically roam the social and political wilderness.

This is the challenge my organisation, the ACM, engaged, when we launched 16 years ago, with a message of freedom and a commitment to work harder to claim the power it provides to our people.

Today, my own contribution to this cause has brought me here, as if in sacred communion with peers, brothers and sisters and comrades. “Tell of my love to the islands,” the hymnist writes, “tell it everywhere.”

I cherish this moment to tell of my love for the islands and I vow to continue telling it everywhere.

Thank you for this great honour.