Kralendijk, The Bottom, Saba, Oranjestad, St. Eustatius – On Saturday 5 June the results of the Media Workers BES Island survey were presented. The session, organized by RCN/OCW, took place in the Plaza Resort Bonaire. After the presentation by researcher Renske Pin, the present members of the press participated in a discussion round on the question how the media landscape on the BES islands can be strengthened. The entire activity could be followed live by members of the press on Saba and Statia.
Between 4th of May and 1st of June 33 media workers living and/or working on the BES islands participated in the survey. Results give insight in the profile of the sector, the working conditions, journalism practices on the BES islands, e.g. experienced editorial independence, (self)censorship, safety, and access to information, and the wishes for professionalization and training opportunities.
Only 15% of the respondents find that the media in BES fulfill the role of “watchdog” (controlling function) well. Of the respondents, 73% indicated to wish to see an incentive fund for iournalism (funding for e.g. journalistic innovative projects, training opportunities, media literacy, scholarships for young journalistic talent, etc.). When asked for advice on strengthening the media on the BES islands, the survey respondents emphasized the importance of transparency by government, education possibilities for media workers, and better working conditions, mostly salary.
“We really appreciate the many and extensive responses to the survey. The input of the members of the press is very valuable for the next steps. What we see, just like in other small island communities is that independent journalism is under pressure from the influence from politics and commerce, which leads to self-censorship. Focusing on journalists’ associations or expanding self-regulation and training opportunities, but also working on media wisdom among the public can help with this.” explains media researcher Renske Pin.
The research is being carried out on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science (OCW). The aim of the research was to obtain valuable information about the media workers’ work, needs and advice for strengthening the media landscape on the BES islands. With the results, OCW can help set up e.g. training courses and an incentive fund for journalism.
The survey is part of a more extensive process, in which the media landscape of the BES islands is briefly mapped on the basis of UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators. Together with the results from the survey and the consultation session with members of the press, this will serve as input for the development and implementation of a Media Development Plan and training program and other possible facilities for strengthening the media landscape.