Joint Statement by the Media Working Group - October 14, 2010 PDF Print Email

Re: Members, Media Council of Bermuda

Joint Statement by the Media Working Group

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2010: The eight members of the Media Council of Bermuda have been chosen.

They are: Christian Luthi (chairman), C. Wendell Emery (deputy chairman), Tom Vesey, Charles H. Webbe, Qian Dickinson, Kelly Francis, Rebecca Davies and Amanda Outerbridge.

They were chosen by a three-member Appointments Committee after public appeals for volunteers.

The Media Council has two main goals  — to help resolve complaints against the media and to protect freedom of expression.

There will be a short induction process and within the next few weeks a date will be set for the formal inception of the council. It will not handle retroactive complaints and only stories printed, posted or broadcast after the start date will be heard.

The complaints procedure will be fully explained on the Media Council’s website which will go live soon, once all of its content has been finalized. Also, as the launch of the council draws nearer, media outlets will run stories to explain how the council will work.

It is important for us to emphasize that the Media Council’s role will be to serve the public by providing a service that will be quick, free of charge, easily accessible and independent.

We had planned a mid-September launch but the extensive preparatory work has required an extraordinary level of commitment and collaboration from all of those involved and despite some delays, we’re enthused about progress.

Three members of the council will represent the media, the other five — including the chairman and deputy chairman — are lay people with no current connections to the news media.

The media representatives will be obliged to excuse themselves from any council hearing that involves a complaint against the media outlet for which they work.

Here is some biographical information about the eight council members:

• Chairman Christian Luthi is a director in the Litigation & Insolvency Department of law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman. His practice encompasses all aspects of civil and commercial litigation. The major part of his practice involves the conduct of litigation in the Supreme Court of Bermuda, or arbitrations conducted in Bermuda. A graduate of Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut, and Oxford University, he is an accredited mediator, Chartered Institute of Mediators, honorary secretary of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Bermuda branch, and chairman of the Bar Committee on Continuing Education.

• Deputy chairman C. Wendell Emery, MBE, JP, worked at Butterfield Bank for nearly 40 years, retiring in 2006 as Executive Vice President Operations and Information Technology. He started his career in Trust and Investments and worked in most divisions of the bank, including Retail and International. He attended Northlands Primary School, Howard Academy and Shaw Business College in Toronto and is a 1995 graduate of a Harvard Business School programme for management development.

He was a member of the Public Service Commission from 1977 to 1995 and served on other Government Boards, including the Bermuda Hospitals Board.

He is married with two adult daughters and one grandchild.

• Tom Vesey, who will represent print media on the council, is a freelance writer whose column appears weekly in the Bermuda Sun. He began his journalism career as a teenager, working for The Royal Gazette and the Mid-Ocean News.
After graduating from the University of Toronto, he obtained a reporting internship at the Washington Post and went on to become a staff writer at the newspaper. He returned to Bermuda in 1989, worked for several years as a reporter for The Royal Gazette, and then became editor of the Bermuda Sun, a position he held until 1998.
He is a former member of the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality. He was a founding member of Citizens Uprooting Racism and a founding member of the Bermuda Leadership Forum. Mr. Vesey is chairman of Somersfield Academy.

• Veteran journalist Charles H. Webbe, who will represent broadcasters on the council, started his career at the Bermuda Recorder and was trained at the Thomson Foundation School of Journalism in Cardiff, Wales. He worked in the United Kingdom and also for the Mid-Ocean News and ZBM. He later joined the Department of Tourism where he spent 34 years. During his career in tourism, he hosted numerous travel journalists and celebrities at the home he shares with his wife, Carolyn. Upon his retirement, he returned to journalism as a news reporter for the DeFontes Broadcasting Company.

An avid cook and art collector, he broadcasts the Sunday service at the Anglican Cathedral, where he has served as a vestry member and people’s warden.

• Qian Dickinson will represent the online-only media outlets on the council. He studied IT at Oakwood University and is currently an IT Specialist at W&W Solutions Ltd. He is also a partner of VATV, Bermuda's first social media network. Established in 2007, VATV has received two awards from the Bermuda Government's TECHWEEK initiative. VATV also acquired the twitter name @cupmatch and partnered with Digicel, The Bermuda Sun and to deliver the first social media coverage of Cup Match. Music is his favourite pastime. He is co-host of the Saturday Supermix on HOTT 1075, a DJ, using the name Vybez Alliance, and a professional violinist, first picking up the instrument at age four.

• Kelly Francis is president and founder of human resource consulting firm Performance Solutions Ltd, a company she launched in 2000. A graduate of Boston College and Stevens Institute of Technology, she has had 25 years experience in the human resource and organisational change management industry. She is a member of the Society of the Human Resource Management and the American Management Association and World at Work.

Currently a trustee of Saltus Grammar School and Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, she is a past president of the Bermuda Human Resource Association and the Sunshine League and a former member of the Board of Education and the Bermuda Red Cross.

• Rebecca Davies grew up in the U.K. and graduated from Aston University, Birmingham with a Joint Honours degree in French and German. She has more than 12 years experience working in Account Management in advertising agencies in London, and is currently an Account Director at Aardvark Communications. She has been living in Bermuda for just over a year and is an active member of the Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society.

• A former journalist, Amanda Outerbridge worked as reporter and assistant editor at The Royal Gazette, and then editor of the Mid-Ocean News. She became Executive Editor of Bermuda Marketing magazines, including Bermuda Business. For 10 years she was Executive Director of the Bermuda National Trust. Since 2003 she has been employed by the XL Group, as Managing Editor and Publisher, Global Head of Internal Communications, and, currently, Executive Director of the XL Foundation.

Government board service has included: Women’s Advisory Council, Tourism Board, Development Applications Board, and Historic Buildings Advisory

Committee. As an original member of the Sustainable Development Round Table, she was part of the team that developed Bermuda’s first Sustainable Development Plan.

The eight people described above will make history as the first members of the fledgling Media Council of Bermuda and we thank the Appointments Committee for choosing such an eminent group.

• NB: The three-person Appointments Committee is comprised of Venous Memari (chairperson), Myra Virgil and Leo Mills.

Venous Memari is an attorney and former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission. Currently, her practice encompasses administrative and public law, and mediation.

Dr. Virgil is Programme Executive (Bermuda) of The Atlantic Philanthropies and the 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, a former Secretary to The Cabinet and Head of The Civil Service and currently Legal Aid counsel in The Ministry of Justice’s Legal Aid Office.


Moves to establish the Media Council of Bermuda began in earnest in May of this year, in response to Premier Dr. Ewart Brown’s tabling, in the House of Assembly, of the Media Council Bill. The bill, which proposed a statutory media council with a majority of members appointed by the Governor after consultation with the government — but paid for by the media — raised concerns about the prospect of political interference in the dissemination of news.

The Media Working Group met with Cabinet on June 29 to outline its plans and on July 19, Premier Brown announced in the House of Assembly that the government would not proceed with the Media Council Bill in the current parliamentary session, adding that it would remain at the disposal of legislators in the next.

The Media Working Group is hopeful and confident that the establishment of the independent Media Council of Bermuda will both negate the need for legislation and better serve the needs of the people of Bermuda.

The Media Working Group
Thaao Dill
Chris Lodge
Tony McWilliam
Tracey Neale
Bill Zuill
Media Council of Bermuda, Suite 1235, 48 Par-la-Ville Road, Hamilton HM 11, Bermuda •