By Fareeza Haniff
Caribbean News Now contributor
ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands -- BVI’s Minister for Education and Culture, Myron Walwyn has revealed that his ministry will be developing a code of ethics for professional medial operators within the British Virgin Islands. In a statement in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, Walwyn said that the code of ethics is aimed at encouraging the BVI media to be more responsible in their reporting.
The Education Ministry is tasked with the responsibility of media monitoring in the BVI.
In the statement, the minister said, “We look forward to having the opportunity to sit with media professionals and develop a code of ethics that can be agreed on. Madam Speaker, I am one that understands and respects the position of media professionals; however, I also believe that as we develop in the Virgin Islands, we also need to advance the way we conduct our affairs as professionals, both in the public and private sectors.”
The minister pointed out that something has gone wrong with the media in the BVI.
“The reckless manner in which matters are reported with no concern for fact or truth is getting out of hand. There was a time when one read the newspaper knowing that the information gleaned was reported to inform and educate our society, and I want to express ‘educate’, Madam Speaker.”
According to the education minister, “It seems as though some news outlets are comfortable with reporting half-truths, taking things out of context and putting it into their own context and thus distorting the truth, Madam Speaker. What ought to be news to disseminate facts and to educate our population, has become sensational entertainment, tabloids if you may.”
Walwyn said that he would not like to reach the stage of having to take prohibition actions, but made it clear that if the media continues on the same path, then it will have to be considered.
“Our online media especially, Madam Speaker, seem to have gotten totally out of hand. Erroneous information is disseminated day after day, facts are made up, and countless anonymous sources infer statements that question the integrity of both public and private citizens. Moreover, the blogs have no restriction whatsoever and media owners seem to not realize their legal responsibility in giving a platform to frequent libelous and false statements,” the minister said.
He appealed to the various media houses to become more responsible and to look carefully at what is being reported.
He said, “They often wonder why they cannot get comments, Madam Speaker, and that may be a sign that the public lacks confidence in some reporting and they need to look within. If they want cooperation then they must show, Madam Speaker, that they are acting responsibly.”
The minister did not give a timeline as to when the proposed code of ethics will be developed or when he will meet with the various media entities to discuss the matter. At present, there is no press association in the BVI.