Ethics, gender equity and cybersecurity: main challenges for communication to ensure its role in strengthening democracy


CABEI and EUPRERA presented the results of the 2020-2021 Latin American Communication Monitor study at a hybrid event with renowned communicators from the region.

Tegucigalpa, October 18, 2021.- Ethical challenges, cybersecurity and achieving gender equity in the professional practice of strategic communication in a context of accelerated digital transformation are the main challenges in the region, according to the 2020-2021 Latin American Communication Monitor (LCM) study presented Monday by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA).

The publication reveals that one out of every two people in the strategic communications profession in Latin America has experienced various ethical challenges, and four out of ten have experienced cyber-attacks. It also highlights that the majority of professionals working in communications departments are women, but they continue to face difficulties in occupying managerial positions.

The study explores current practices and future developments in strategic communication and public relations, emphasizing national (across organizational type) and regional differences in 20 countries in the region.

Participants in the event's panel discussion entitled "Media in Central America: Current Situation and Perspectives" agreed that addressing the issues of cybersecurity, ethics and challenges are vital to ensure the role of communication in strengthening democracy.

"Communication is an essential element of how we live and in a world where there is a lot of information, it is vitally important to know how to communicate and be effective in how we do it, which is why tools such as the Latin American Communication Monitor help strengthen our communication areas and the competencies of the professionals who work in them, while contributing to their specialization," explained CABEI Executive President Dante Mossi during the opening of the event.

The president of the OPSA Group of Honduras, Jorge Canahuati, said that the pandemic accelerated the digital transition by about five years, while stressing that the importance of this profession and industry is not only to inform, but is "a pillar of democracy.

The panel was moderated by Juan Carlos Molleda, dean of the School of Communication at the University of Oregon, USA and director of the LCM, and included the participation of Jessica Mass, journalist of the Honduran radio station HRN, Fabio Parreaguirre, CEO of the Costa Rican newspaper La República, Rita Vásquez, editorial director of La Prensa de Panamá, and Yanancy Noguera, executive director of Punto y Aparte de Costa Rica.

Professionalization of communicators key to improving cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is not only a communication issue; it is an organizational issue. However, from the communication side there must be a very important pressure so that it is prioritized at a strategic level, said Noguera during his intervention in the panel.

For her part, the president of EUPRERA, Ángeles Moreno, added that several researches affirm that almost all cybersecurity problems are caused by human error, hence the importance of education and involvement of managers and all employees in the security of the organization.

Truthfulness and transparency in the transmission of content

Data is one of the main sources of work for communicators, but there must be a professional treatment since organizations may run the risk of affecting their reputation. Vásquez indicated that the publication of "proven facts and veracity is above the scoop.  The contrary leads to an affectation of ethics, including the possibility of legal action.

For his part, Mass urged a deeper analysis of ethical issues and to keep them on the agenda in the face of the growing loss of the principles that guide the profession and the growing relevance of influencers.

Gender equity, the challenge remains

Spaces are open for women and progress has been made; however, the pandemic represents a setback in the possibilities to reach positions of power or management. "We must go beyond equity and seek diversity," emphasized Vásquez.

For CABEI, communication is linked to access to information, an area in which significant steps have been taken. The institution adopted a Public Information Access Policy, changing the paradigm of how communication with citizens is managed.

"We are the first international financial institution to provide real-time access to policy compliance indicators," said Mossi, who stated that the institution is committed to "communicating more and better, not only what CABEI is, but also what CABEI does.