Sat | Oct 19, 2019

Barnes takes charge at IAPA - RJRGLEANER COO to continue press freedom fight across Americas

Published:Tuesday | October 8, 2019 | 12:05 AM
Christopher Barnes

One of the Western Hemisphere’s oldest and highly respected press freedom advocates, the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), has elected Jamaican media practitioner Christopher Barnes as its new president.

Barnes, the chief operating officer of the RJRGLEANER Communications Group and managing director of The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited, assumed the presidency of the organisation on Monday at the end of its 75th annual general assembly at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Miami, Florida.

The new president has vowed to continue the fight for press freedom and free speech across the Americas, while strengthening efforts to educate the public on media’s importance to the democratic process.

“There can be no strong, effective and sustainable democracy in the Americas without a strong and free press,” Barnes told IAPA delegates and supporters at the luncheon marking the end of IAPA’s four-day annual general assembly.

Challenges to press freedom

He told delegates that the challenges of the Caribbean “bear resemblance to many of our neighbouring Latin American friends, and more recently, our friends to the north here in the United States and Canada.

“Though the English-speaking Caribbean enjoys a relatively higher press freedom ranking and low incidence of violence,” said the new IAPA president,“we do face challenges of criminal defamation, access to information challenges, impending data protection legislation, state intimidation, and, in some instances, self-censorship.”

Barnes, who was elected first vice-president of IAPA in 2018, took over the presidency from Colombia’s Maria Elvira Dominguez.

The just-concluded general assembly covered a range of topics, including climate change, digital growth, artificial intelligence, innovation and challenges facing journalism in the hemisphere. Delegates also examined online content monetisation and the difficulties arising from the growing phenomenon of fake news internationally and how to address this problem through fact-checking networks.

 

WHAT IS IAPA?

The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) is a press freedom advocacy group representing major media organisations in North America, South America and the Caribbean. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is headquartered in Miami, Florida.

 

WHO IS CHRISTOPHER BARNES?

- Chief Operating Officer of RJRGLEANER Communications Group

- Managing Director of The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited

- Chairman of the Media Association Jamaica

- Director of PanJam Investment Limited

- A trained mechanical engineer with a graduate degree in finance and international business from Boston University and McGill University, respectively.

- Married, father of two children