Jamestown Vision: one misconception after another…

Strong remarks about the Jamestown Vision plan have caused upset and embarrassment after being published by St Helena Online and in the St Helena Independent.

Our story accurately reflected concerns about the way the proposals had been drawn up, and about the level of public consultation. Similar views were expressed at a public meeting last week.

But Adam Wolfe of St Helena National Trust has protested that things he said in a briefing with overseas students had not been intended for publication.

Simon Pipe, editor of St Helena Online, was solely responsible for the story. He says: “I wish to express my regrets to Adam for the embarrassment caused.

“I stand by the substance of the story, which raised legitimate concerns about a matter of great public interest. It was right that those concerns should have come out, but not in this way.

“Adam was very generous in giving more than an hour of his time to give my journalism students an understanding of life on St Helena, and its extraordinary human heritage and wildlife.

“I accept that he genuinely believed that this was an off-the-record chat. I sincerely believed that part of the purpose of the conversation was to gather information for stories for the website and the newspaper.

“However, it took us 20 minutes to make a connection with Adam and we then had difficulty hearing him. By the time these issues had been sorted out, we were under pressure to get through the discussion and did not go through the usual journalistic preliminaries of establishing the basis of the conversation.

“I did not subsequently go back to Adam to check the detail of the story, but journalistic convention did not require me to do so, given that I did not need to clarify the facts.

“The story was in no part inaccurate. Important concerns were raised.

“Regrettably, because of other pressures I did not seek a comment from Enterprise St Helena before publishing, as I normally would. Had I done so, it would have been unlikely to alter the broad thrust of the story.

“I chose to remove the story from St Helena Online. It also appeared in the Independent, but the paper has given coverage to various sides in the arguments over the Vision: it has been balanced in its reporting over time, and no criticism attaches to the paper.

“However, the story did cause upset and irritation, and for this, I apologise.”


About Simon Pipe

I teach journalism and media law part-time at university and spend the rest of the time, fell-running, dancing, creating. "Creating" can be taken many ways. I was a senior broadcast journalist at the BBC and a reporter, sub-editor and feature writer on newspapers before that. For five years I ran St Helena Online, a news website about the remote British island in the South Atlantic, at www.sthelenaonline.org.
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