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Media Council: No complaints lodged

The Media Council of Bermuda has not received a single official complaint in the first ten months of its existence.

But those who set it up believe it has improved journalistic standards and accountability since its launch at the start of February.

The council’s purpose is to give members of the public a forum through which to resolve grievances against the media and to protect freedom of expression.

It was formed by members of the industry in response to plans by former Premier Ewart Brown to bring in a legislated watchdog.

Twenty outlets have signed up to the council’s code of practice and, although several alleged infractions of the code have been reported, none have led to a formal complaint.

Meredith Ebbin, the council’s executive officer, told

The Royal Gazette: “People have taken their complaint directly to the media outlet and the matter has been resolved, usually by way of an apology, a correction, or a clarification, to the satisfaction of both parties.”

She said the council’s media working group, which established the organisation, believed the mere existence of the watchdog and the code of practice had led to improvements in reporting.

“An aggrieved person has something tangible on which to base his or her complaint and the media outlet is less able to wiggle out of making an apology.”

The council will launch an advertising campaign this week to raise its profile, though it insists it is not doing so in a bid to solicit complaints.

Tony McWilliam, chairman of the media working group, said: “The purpose of the advertising campaign is to remind islanders that if they do have a complaint against the media, the council is there to help.”

He agreed that the media had been more responsive to complaints since the formation of the council.

“One of the goals from the outset was to heighten the accountability of the media and I’ve been made aware of a number of situations over the past ten months in which informal complaints have been made against various outlets but have subsequently been resolved quickly.

“The outcomes might have been less satisfactory had it not been for the existence of the code and the council. The upshot is that Bermudians are now better served by the media.

“No formal complaint has reached the council itself yet and, although it’s very difficult to quantify, I believe that the adoption of the code of practice has raised the bar on journalistic standards.”

The outlets to have signed up to the code are:

The Royal Gazette, bermuda.com, Bermudabiographies.com, Bermuda Broadcasting Company, Bermuda Media, Bermuda Sports Network, Bermuda Sun, Bermuda Wired, Bermudian Publishing Company, Bermynet, Bernews, BlackAndCoke.com, Breezeblog, DeFontes Broadcasting Company, Inter-Island Communications, Islandstats.com, LookTV, LTT Broadcasting Company, VATV and the Worker’s Voice.

* What do you think? E-mail your views to sstrangeways[AT]royalgazette.bm.

Useful website: www.mediacouncilofbermuda.org.

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Published November 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm (Updated November 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm)

Media Council: No complaints lodged

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