British Virgin Islands news websites

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BVI Platinum News.

There are presently four principal British Virgin Islands news websites publishing news focused upon current affairs in the Territory:

  • BVI News[1]
  • BVI Beacon[2]
  • Virgin Islands Platinum News[3]
  • Virgin Islands News Online[4]

The British Virgin Islands only has two newspapers (and those are both published weekly), and no full-time television station.

Of the two functioning newspapers in the Territory (the BVI Beacon and the Island Sun) both also have news websites that are updated regularly.[5] In the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands, the main daily, the Virgin Islands Daily News reports on some stories developing in the British islands.[6]

Some news sites in the Territory allow a great deal of latitude to the public to comment anonymously upon articles (referred to, slightly misleadingly, as "blogs" locally). In a community as small as the British Virgin Islands anonymous comments often indicate inside knowledge in relation to news items, or serve as a vox populi in relation to developing stories.

Main news websites[edit]

Relative popularity[edit]

The relative popularity of the main online news sites in the British Virgin Islands ebbs and flows over time. As at 7 April 2017 online web traffic services ranked them as follows:

Website SimilarWeb Rank Alexa Rank
BVI Global BVI Global
BVI Platinum[7][8] 8 198,847 17 505,569
BVI News[9][10] 9 188,739 13 441,913
VINO[11][12] 10 212,639 12 459,065
BVI Beacon[13][14] 188 1,993,886 117 2,206,990
BVI Hot Press[15][16] 542 5,887,542 n/a 6,143,512
Island Sun[17][18] 740 5,733,959 n/a 4,943,539

BVI News[edit]

BVI News arguably has the highest profile of the three mainstream sites outside of the Territory, ranking higher than all of its competitors internationally on both SimilarWeb and Alexa (within the British Virgin Islands it ranks second on both ranking sites). It is not viewed as politically affiliated. It does not publish the names of any of its senior staff or journalists. The parent company of BVI News is Media Expressions Limited.

Economics commentator Dickson Igwe is a regular contributor to BVI News (although he also frequently contributes the same articles to the BVI Beacon in print).[19]

Virgin Islands Platinum News[edit]

Virgin Islands Platinum News was originally named "BVI Platinum", and is often still referred to as such. Although the firm's website address reflects its original name, it now uses the Government approved national moniker.[20] The news site has been criticised as pro-National Democratic Party, and anti-Virgin Islands Party.[21]

The news sites present senior reporters are Melissa Edwards and Gordon French. Platinum News does not publish details of its ownership online, but the web address is registered to Platinum Investors Limited, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands.

In 2013 BVI Platinum was accused of breach of ethics by local politician Archibald Christian in relation to the publication of a leaked Government report.[22]

In 2017 BVI Platinum won the award for best online news site at the Best of the BVI Businesses Award Ceremony.[23]

Virgin Islands News Online[edit]

Virgin Islands News Online (often referred to simply as "VINO", or sometimes "the Yellow Site" or "the Esteeme Site"). It is alleged that the site is align with the political viewpoint of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP). There is open conflict between the news site and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), because of the news sites frequent challenges of the policies of the NDP.[24] VINO is also critical towards Police Commissioner David Morris.[25] The website is associated with Julian Willock, who served from 2010 to 2012 as permanent secretary to Minister of Communications and Works.

The current Editor in Chief of VINO is Reuben J. A. Stoby, and the senior reporter is Nikolai J. Earle.[26] According to its home page, VINO is owned by Advance Marketing and Professional Services. The domain name itself is registered in the name of an ownership privacy protection organisation.

VINO has been part of a number of controversies during its existence.

  • Doubts as to whether its marketing manager John E. Leonard actually exists, or whether he was a cipher for other parties, have been expressed both in other media,[27] and in the House of Assembly.[28] In March 2015 it was announced that Mr Leonard was parting ways with VINO.[29]
  • VINO was sued for defamation by politician and ophthalmologist, Dr Hubert O'Neal. A court initially awarded Dr O'Neal US$20,000 but that was later made subject to appeal.[30] VINO accused other new sites of a hidden agenda in relation to the reports, and alleged that the lead journalist of a competitor might be racist.[31]
  • In 2013 VINO refused to pull an article after the Magistrate threatened to initiate contempt of court proceedings.[32]
  • Also in 2013 VINO was criticised for showing pictures of a bloodied murder victim but many readers and the public came to their defense.[33] The news site strongly defended its actions.[21]
  • In April 2016 Minister of Education Myron Walwyn sued the news site for libel.[34]

Newspaper sites[edit]

The website of the BVI Beacon is ranked on SimilarWeb as only the 542nd most popular website in the Territory,[35] and the Island Sun is ranked 720th.[36]

Press censorship[edit]

From time there have been criticisms of the British Virgin Islands government in relation to allegations of press censorship. This may be a by-product of having much of the online news reporting originating from politically affiliated sources. Allegations of attempted press censorship have usually focused upon one of two concerns.

  1. The first relates to the controversial Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2014, which was criticised both within the British Virgin Islands[37] and aboard[38] as an attack on press freedom. Amendments to the legislation to permit "public interest" publication of information somewhat mollified those criticisms.[39]
  2. The second area of criticism relates to unfulfilled promises to pass a Freedom of Information Act in the British Virgin Islands. Despite multiple promises to introduce such legislation, to date not even draft legislation has been issued for public consultation.[40] The Government has blamed a busy legislative timetable.

Governments have increasingly been at pains to say that they have no intention of muzzling the press.[41] External reviews consider that "The media enjoys freedom of the press and speech" in the Territory.[42]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "BVI News homepage". Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  2. ^ "BVI Beacon homepage". Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Virgin Islands Platinum News homepage". Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Virgin Islands News Online homepage". Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  5. ^ "BVI Beacon homepage". Retrieved 29 March 2015.; "Island Sun homepage". Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Virgin Islands Daily News homepage". Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  7. ^ "SimilarWeb - bviplatinum.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Alexa - bviplatinum.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  9. ^ "SimilarWeb - bvinews.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Alexa - bvinews.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  11. ^ "SimilarWeb - virginislandsnewsonline.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Alexa - virginislandsnewsonline.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  13. ^ "SimilarWeb - bvibeacon.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  14. ^ "Alexa - bvibeacon.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  15. ^ "SimilarWeb - bvihotpress.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Alexa - bvihotpress.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  17. ^ "SimilarWeb - islandsun.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  18. ^ "Alexa - islandsun.com". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  19. ^ Dickson Igwe (14 March 2015). "The national debt: is it a problem?". BVI News.
  20. ^ "About the Territory". Government of the Virgin Islands. Retrieved 31 March 2015. [T]he Territory's Constitutional Commission has expressed the view that 'every effort should be made', to encourage the use of the name 'Virgin Islands'.
  21. ^ a b "VINO hits back at pro-govt news site BVI Platinum, describes it as 'trash'". VINO. 11 May 2013. We find that the pro-government news site, BVI Platinum News, is biased, engaging in yellow journalism, and deliberate in their article; publishing it even after Virgin Islands News Online had already removed the photo in question
  22. ^ "BVI Platinum News report 'a breach of ethics' – Hon. Christian". VINO. 9 April 2013.
  23. ^ "Platinum Voted Best Online News; Other Businesses Awarded". BVI Platinum. 7 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Questions persist about VINO general manager". BVI Beacon. 28 November 2014. [G]overnment ministers Mark Vanterpool and Myron Walwyn, First Lady Lorna Smith, and other business and community leaders have publicly admonished the site, alleging shoddy journalistic practices.
  25. ^ "Is CoP David Morris interfering in an independent investigation?". VINO. 13 January 2015. David Morris (right) has had a rocky tenure as Commissioner of Police in the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF). The constabulary has been rocked with a long list of lawsuits against Morris over violation of police officers rights, and issues of fairness and not following the law when dealing with both police officers and the public.
  26. ^ "VINO - Our Team". Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  27. ^ "Questions persist about VINO general manager". BVI Beacon. 28 November 2014. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. "A newspaper whose editor we can’t find. Deceased. John Leonard. Editor, come forward man, stop hiding behind John Leonard name," he [Minister Mark Vanterpool] said in a lengthy tirade against VINO.
  28. ^ "Fraser Behind Website Tearing Down Country - House Of Assembly Told". BVI Platinum. 13 March 2015. There have been numerous calls for Mr. John Leonard to make a public appearance, but to date this has not happened, leading many to assume that this was a deceptive ploy as someone else was operating using the name of Mr. John Leonard. Many have questioned the relationship between Mr. Willock and Mr. Leonard, who was said to be the editor of the website in question.
  29. ^ "John Leonard quits VINO". BVI News. 5 March 2015. After years of being described as a mysterious or dead person, John E. Leonard is said to have parted company with Advance Marketing and Professional Services, the parent company of Virgin Islands News Online (VINO).
  30. ^ "News site hit with $20k defamation ruling". BVI Beacon. 28 November 2014.
  31. ^ "VINO fires back @ local tabloid BVI Beacon's malicious article!". VINO. 28 November 2014. Many have even suggested that some of the Caucasian reporters, including Jason Smith, are racist!
  32. ^ "Alred Frett pulls article after court reprimand". BVI News. 16 August 2013. Archived from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  33. ^ "Photo Of Bloodied Murder Victim Sparks Public Outrage; Calls Made To Boycott VINO Advertisers". BVI Platinum. 10 May 2013.
  34. ^ "Gov't Minister Sues News Site & Owner For Defamation". BVI Platinum. 13 May 2016.
  35. ^ "Bvibeacon.com ranking". SimilarWeb. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  36. ^ "Islandsun.com ranking". SimilarWeb. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  37. ^ "Is the NDP going through the backdoor to censor the media?". VINO. 13 January 2014.; "EDITORIAL — HOA should amend cybercrime law in order to protect press freedom". BVI Beacon. 19 March 2014. Last Thursday was a dark day for freedom of speech in the Virgin Islands.
  38. ^ "British Virgin Islands' new law threatens press freedom in Hong Kong, analysts warn". South China Morning Post. 12 February 2014.; "Going Overboard". The Economist. 29 March 2014.
  39. ^ "Controversial Cybercrime Act Takes Effect September 1". BVI Platinum. 14 August 2014.
  40. ^ "Broken Promise: Gov't Has Not Looked At Freedom Of Information Act - Premier Admits". BVI Platinum. 3 June 2014.
  41. ^ "Despite Critique, No Desire To Muzzle Press - Premier; No Commitment To Passing FOI Act This Year". BVI Platinum. 28 March 2015.
  42. ^ "Virgin Islands (British) Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers". Press Reference. Retrieved 2 April 2015.