Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley said while he is a strong advocate of media freedom, he remains concerned about what he described as ‘clickbait journalism’.
“Certainly we favour a very strong media corp. The media has a role in keeping the public informed. I do sometimes become concerned about having more in-depth, investigative stories seeking to illuminate for the public. As a society I think we have to reflect on this brand of journalism which is almost like ‘click-bait’ journalism where persons are seeking to get hits on stories as opposed to keeping the public properly informed on certain matters,” Premier Wheatley explained at a press conference on October 28.
His statement on media freedom follows restrictive instructions his office gave for the local press to issue questions ahead of the press conference last week. Members of the local press took issue, arguing that such instructions are a tacit to limit press freedom in the BVI.
However, at the press conference last week, Premier Wheatley said the BVI has ‘a very good brand of journalism’ and he urged the public to exercise diligence in verifying information they gather from local media outlets.
“But having more information to the public is something that can only strengthen the society in my view and I am a very strong advocate of media freedom and media having access to information,” Premier Wheatley said.
Press freedom remains an issue in the BVI.
For example, BVI News continues to face obstacles in getting responses from elected leaders when they are asked to comment on issues of national importance.
Our news centre for example, often gets no reply from elected leaders when questions are submitted by WhatsApp or email.
In contrast, the Governor’s Office usually replies to questions submitted by BVI News.
Over the years, BVI News has experienced mixed reactions from senior public officers who are invited to reply to questions submitted by our news centre on behalf of the general public. Some have made credible efforts to respond to our inquiry while others have shied away from making themselves accountable.
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