Plans to establish a self-regulating media council now have the backing of a dozen media outlets.
Bernews, The Workers’ Voice, IslandStats.com, The Bermudian Publishing Co., Bermuda Network News, the blog site 21square.com and Bermudabiographies.bm have all agreed to sign up to a common Code of Practice.
They join Inter-island Communications, DeFontes Broadcasting, Bermuda Broadcasting, the Bermuda Sun and The Royal Gazette — known collectively known as the Media Working Group.
The Code of Practice, which was published last month, will be the primary reference point for the council when it handles complaints.
A joint statement released by the Media Working Group yesterday said: “We’re delighted with the level of cooperation within the industry and will continue to reach out to other media outlets to encourage them to come on board.”
Meanwhile, veteran journalist Meredith Ebbin has been appointed Executive Officer for the media council. She will be the “point person” for complaints from the public.
Ms Ebbin, who is now semi-retired, runs the Bermudabiographies.bm website and worked as a print journalist for more than 30 years.
“She is renowned for scrupulousness in reporting and her experience and credibility make her ideal for the role,” the statement said.
A three-member Appointments Committee, which will select members of the media council, has also been formed.
The media council will have five lay members — including a chairman — with no connection to the media. It will also have three members nominated by the media, one each to represent print, broadcast and web-only.
The Appointments Committee will be chaired by Venous Memari, an attorney and former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission. Currently, her practice encompasses administrative and public law, and mediation.
Her colleagues on the committee are Myra Virgil and Leopold Mills.
Dr. Virgil is Programme Executive (Bermuda) of The Atlantic Philanthropies and a former Director of Human Affairs for the Bermuda Government, which encompasses the Human Rights Commission, the former CURE Commission, Consumer Affairs and the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged.
Mr. Mills is a former radio and television broadcaster both here and in the British Virgin Islands. He is also a former Secretary to The Cabinet and Head of The Civil Service, and is currently Legal Aid counsel in The Ministry of Justice’s Legal Aid Office.
In the coming weeks, the Appointments Committee will reach out to the public, through advertisements, for unpaid volunteers to sit on the media council.
The joint statement continued: “It’s important for us to emphasize at this juncture that the Bermuda Media Council’s role will be to serve the public, by providing a forum through which they can resolve complaints against the media. The process will be quick, easily accessible and independent.”
Work on the Bermuda Media Council website is ongoing. Users will be able to access the Code of Practice, the complaints procedure, reports on adjudications and contact information on the site.
Members of the five-strong Media WorkingGroup are: Thaao Dill, Programe Director, Inter-Island Communications, Chris Lodge, News Director, DeFontes Broadcasting Co., Tracey Neale, News Director, Bermuda Broadcasting Co., Tony McWilliam, editor, Bermuda Sun and Bill Zuill, Editor of The Royal Gazette.
See the full joint statement by the Media Working Group