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Media Council releases 'Reporting on Race' guide for journalists

‘Reporting on Race—A Guide for Media Professionals’ was funded by the Colorado-based Aspen Institute, which has had a long association with Bermuda.  It recognizes the role that race continues to play in Bermuda and the influence of the media, both positive and negative, on public attitudes, debates and actions about racial issues.

The guide signals a likely shift in direction for the Media Council in the future.

Since it was established in February 2011, the Council has had to deal with a handful of complaints, two of which required adjudication by the eight-member Council.

The Media Council’s Working Committee, which comprises Tony McWilliam, chairman, Jeremy Deacon, Tracey Neale and Bryan Darby, is considering redirecting its resources towards sponsoring courses and seminars for working journalists and others considering careers in journalism and issues affecting the industry.

‘Reporting on Race—A Guide for Media Professionals’ is believed to be a first of its kind for Bermuda.  It arose out of a Leadership Seminar on Race and the Media, which was conducted in 2011 at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel by the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change and the Aspen-Bermuda Partnership on Racial Equity.

The guide lists 11 specific guidelines for journalists, some of which were adapted from the National Union of Journalists’ Guidelines on Race Reporting in the U.K. and the Poynter Institute’s Guidelines for Racial Identification in the U.S.

The first guideline comes directly from the Media Council’s Code of Practice, which says a person’s race or nationality should not be mentioned in a prejudicial or pejorative way.  Another guideline says journalists should be responsible for knowing and being accurate with facts about Bermuda’s racial history and racial inequities.

Included in the guide is a history section, which should be useful to all journalists, and especially beginning reporters and those new to Bermuda.

The guide was written by Meredith Ebbin, executive officer of the Media Council, and Raymond Codrington of the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change.  It was reviewed by a team of journalists, historians and others with a broad knowledge of Bermuda politics and current affairs, before being submitted to the Council’s Working Committee for final approval.

The Media Council and the Aspen Institute are confident that the guide will contribute to the conversation about race in Bermuda in a meaningful way. Copies will be circulated to all media organisations in Bermuda, print, broadcast and online, and will be posted on the Media Council website.

Like the Media Council’s Code of Practice, it is a living document that will be regularly reviewed.

Chris Gibbons