“Aren’t you worried about your work permit being revoked?” It’s a question Beaconites hear frequently when they report controversial stories. The answer is an unequivocal “no.” No, Beaconites aren’t afraid. In the decades-long history of the Beacon, no foreign-born Beaconite has ever had their permit revoked by Labour or Immigration simply for reporting a story that the government happens to disagree with. And the newspaper reports these stories on a regular basis. Sure, people have been angered; sometimes they may even try to retaliate. But typically nothing serious comes of it. Not to mention that if reporters muzzled themselves simply because they’re afraid of how it might affect them personally, it would make the Beacon a pretty poor newspaper indeed. This Beaconite isn’t sure how this notion arose, other than that some people seem to have the idea that the VI government is far more powerful and far-reaching than it actually is, and that it concerns itself more deeply with the actions of individuals than it actually does. Labour and Immigration, she believes, are at heart bureaucracies that mostly work to follow procedure. Certainly some government departments can be highly politicised — that’s a fact of life — but the reality is that elected officials, by and large, have bigger fish to fry. The idea that they would have nothing better to do with their time than try to interfere with the work permit of a reporter, who ultimately has no real power to effect change (other than simply informing people of the facts and letting them make their own decisions) simply out of a sense of petty vindictiveness, is a notion that it’s high time is put to rest.
As a Beaconite was passing the smoking, toxic hillside that is Pockwood Pond over the weekend, she overheard a fellow boat passenger talking about the current state of waste management in the territory — or his version of it. “The incinerator has been down,” he said, correctly. “So they just burn the trash up there every day now.” Not so correct. Yes, fires are more likely to occur in the landfill while the incinerator awaits repairs and more trash is piled high within the same small area. But to this reporter’s knowledge (and she’s done her fair share of stories on the subject), Department of Waste Management employees are not intentionally lighting the whole area up every night. Instead, different types of trash comingled together periodically spontaneously combust. Everyone in the territory should take it upon themselves to fact-check what they hear in passing, especially if they pass it along themselves later. There’s a pretty good chance there’s more to the story.
A Beaconite who is covering his fourth Virgin Islands general election is thrilled that most political events are now being broadcast on social media. Though it is always best to cover an event in person, there are too many campaign launches and rallies to attend everything — especially this year, when four parties are in the mix. Thus, Facebook and other social media channels are proving invaluable in keeping track of the campaigns. There is also another major advantage: Considering the amount of hot air spewed at the typical political rally, scrolling through a video can greatly reduce the amount of time needed to hear the substantive moments — if there are any. The Beaconite knows that other residents are also using social media to keep track of the campaigns, and he suspects that the wide availability of information will help voters stay informed and make this democracy stronger.