Constitutional review meetings are better without media
Chairman of the constitutional review Commission Lisa Penn-Lettsome has stated that her team has “diplomatically discouraged” media from covering the community meetings being held across the territory.
She said this is because the commissioners were told that residents would not speak openly if they knew their views were being recorded by the press.
“We’ve been told in no uncertain terms that participation will be reduced if the events are live streamed or recorded and if their faces are splashed over the media the next day,” Penn-Lettsome explained earlier this week on the Talking Points radio show.
However, Penn-Lettsome said members of the press who choose to attend the public meetings for the constitutional review, won’t be turned away but will be asked to refrain from taking pictures, audio and ascribing comments to individuals.
“We have not asked the press not to attend but we have – in a diplomatic as possible way – discouraged them from attending. Participation is very high, people speak. And the commissioners also are very frank when it’s a more intimate setting like that,” Penn-Lettsome explained.
Though many residents frequently engage with news media in the BVI, it is cultural to refrain from openly giving comments to the press. This is because many fear their comments could lead to harsh criticism and victimisation.
However, this doesn’t stop residents from sharing their views once an avenue is provided for them to do so anonymously.