UTech, Ja. Student Exhibition Focuses on Media Education and Social Change

Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts and Technology (BCAT) students, Shawn Hector (left) and Crystal Taylor (right) pose with(from left) Dr. Rohan Lewis, Dean, Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies (FELS), Mr. Richard T. Griffiths (centre), former Vice President and Senior Editorial Director of CNN, and Dr. Nova Gordon-Bell, Head, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, FELS  following the opening ceremony for the annual BCAT final year student exhibition held on Wednesday, May 3, 2017at the UTech, Jamaica Papine campus. The former CNN Vice President’s visit to Jamaica as guest of UTech, Jamaica was made possible with support from the United States Embassy in Jamaica.


The University of Technology, Jamaica, through the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies hosted the 3rd annual Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts and Technology (BCAT) final year students’ exhibition at its Papine and Montego Bay campuses, Wednesday, May 3 to Friday, May 5, 2017. 

Under the theme, “Streaming Imagination,” the three-day exhibition featured student exhibits comprising short video documentaries, websites, radio features, photo essays, magazines, billboards and books that dealt with a variety of current social issues. 

At the opening ceremony, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies, Dr. Rohan Lewis in welcoming the large gathering of media practitioners, students and educators said that the event provides a platform for discussion about media education and preparing students with competencies to function in the modern media environment. 

Keynote speaker Mr. Richard T. Griffiths, former Vice President and Senior Editorial Director, CNN delivered a wide-ranging presentation centred on the role of media in the digital age.  Griffiths interspersed his engaging presentation with photographs of his recent vacation at the Grand Canyon with its many river rapids, which he likened to the ebb and flow of 21st Century journalism.

Pointing to the role of media, Mr. Griffiths said that media should educate citizens; hold government accountable for their actions; ensure that justice is done; lift up good and new ideas that result in positive change, and “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Looking at trust in media, he pointed to data from the Edelman Trust Barometer 2017- an extensive public survey of 33,000 people worldwide done in 28 countries – which shows a dramatic decline in trust in media globally.   Mr. Griffiths shared that 82% of the countries surveyed distrusted their media.    Indonesia ranks number 1 with 67% of its population trusting its media, followed by India, China, Sweden and Turkey with percentages of 66%, 65%, 33% and 25% respectively.  He noted that trust in traditional media has shown the sharpest decline on the trust barometer, moving from 62% to 57% between 2012 and 2017.    Mr. Griffiths also pointed out that the survey shows that people are more willing to trust social media, their friends and colleagues, more than they are inclined to trust traditional news sources.

Restoring Trust in the Media

Griffiths posited a raft of recommendations for restoring trust in media.  He emphasized the importance of executing the “three layers of journalism” to ensure factual and credible reporting.  Under layer one, he explained the use of surface facts which includes news releases, handouts and speeches.  Under layer two, he examined the significance of the “reportorial enterprise,” which includes “fact checking of layer one sources, investigative reporting, questioning authority and determining potential legal risks.” With layer three journalism, Griffiths pointed the budding journalism students to the importance of interpretation and analysis to add context and meaning to the news being reported for the general public.

Mr. Griffiths repeated his presentation to an audience of students, media practitioners and educators at the UTech, Jamaica Western Campus, Dome Street, Montego Bay on Friday, May 5, 2017.  A mini version of the exhibition of students’ work was also mounted at the Dome Street campus and attracted large groups of high school students, educators, media practioners and members of the public.

Mr. Griffiths makes a point during his presentation at the UTech, Jamaica Western Campus, Dome Street, Montego Bay on Friday, May 5, 2017.

Media Education for Justice, Development and Social Change

(L- R) Presenters who participated in the panel discussion on “Media Education for Justice, Development and Social Change” held on World Press Freedom Day, Wednesday, May 3 at the UTech, Jamaica Papine campus -  Mr. Richard T. Griffiths, former Vice President and Senior Editorial Director, CNN, Dr. Livingston White, Lecturer, Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, Prof. Trevor Munroe, Executive Director, National Integrity Action (NIA) and Mr. Gary Allen, Chief Executive Officer, RJR/Gleaner Communications Group. 

Prof. Munroe in his contribution to the panel discussion congratulated the local media fraternity on Jamaica’s current high global press freedom ranking.   He noted that Reporters Without Borders ranks Jamaica at number 8 of 180 countries – moving up from the previous 10th position last year.  He noted that Jamaica also ranks highly in Freedom House – another very important measure of democracy across the world.  The integrity advocate noted that this coincides with Jamaica’s citizens’ evaluation of their media and press fraternity.  He praised the quality of media education for its contribution to these positive outcomes and encouraged students and media practitioners to do the research, whether it relates to the justice system or to road infrastructure, in ensuring accuracy and fairness in news reporting.

Dr. White in his presentation commented on the role of curriculum, ethics and research as important components of media education.  He suggested that media education courses should be taught to students at all levels and not just those interested in media and communication related careers.  This he suggested is one way to ensure that media education contributes to achieving justice, development and social change.

Mr. Gary Allen in his contribution also emphasized the importance of media education in justice and social change.  In this regard, Allen argued that “all media and media professionals need to be independent,” adding that, “if you are independent you can  always state different independent  points of view in a more balanced and fair way.  He urged the communication students to defend the rights to free speech and free media while ensuring responsibility in the practice of their craft.

Mr. Griffiths in supporting the positions raised by the panelists noted that ethics should also be taught at all levels of the education system to promote positive values and responsible behaviour within the society and by extension the media.   

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences, formerly the Department of Liberal Studies, has offered a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Arts and Technology since 2009.  Four cohorts have graduated from the programme since 2013.  The degree offers a comprehensive set of skills in digital media production with concentrations in Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations.  Communication Arts and Technology is intrinsically an interdisciplinary field, bringing together scholarship and training in the humanities, the social sciences, the applied sciences and technology.   


Mr. Sydney Lowrie (right), Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Sciences reviews the magazine Jam876-The Lifestyle of the 876 produced by student, Kingsley Whyte (3rd left). Looking on curiously are final year BCAT students Syrannie Vassell (left) and Okema Williams.

Jodian Cox shows off her video documentary titled, Disappearing Shores:  Behind the Hidden Faces.

Valisa Howell poses with her photo essay publication on “Balancing Motherhood and University.”

Verteran broadcaster Fae Ellington (left) looks keenly at Syrannie Vassell’s photo essay titled, “Keep on Running.”

Gabrielle Victory chats with Mr. Ken Williams, Manager, HOT 102FM during his visit to the exhibition.  Gabrielle’s final project was a video documentary examining the issue, “Work and Travel:  Cultural Exchange or Modern Day Slavery.”

Rapping with Griffiths

Four final year Journalism major students were chosen to have a discussion with Mr. Richard Griffiths (centre) on current media practices.  Some of the topics discussed were CNN’s involvement in the 2016 US Election, public interest versus ethical values and corruption in the Venezuelan government.  Students from left are Cait-Amoi Goulbourne, Travis Bartley, Shauna Spence and Adrianna Miller.  

Courtesy Call: Prof. Stephen Vasciannie, CD, President, UTech, Jamaica presents a gift to Mr. Griffiths.  Mr. Griffiths paid a courtesy call on the President on Wednesday, May 3, 2017.   He was accompanied by representatives from the US Embassy in Kingston, Ms. Kristina Otiz and Ms. Cleo Walker, Dr. Rohan Lewis, Dr. Nova Gordon-Bell and Mr. Hector Wheeler, AVP, Advancement, UTech, Jamaica.


Michelle Beckford (Mrs.)
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: 970-5299
Email: mbeckford@utech.edu.jm