The BBC delivers the big news, but local reports don’t miss out on the Falkland Islands either. This is also due to the only newspaper that fulfills a remarkable dual function.
Local newspaper and national newspaper in one: The “Penguin News” has to manage a considerable balancing act.
“The same day I write about the work of the standing committee on finance and a bake sale or local sports,” says Nick Roberts. The 27-year-old is deputy editor-in-chief of the “Penguin News” – the only newspaper in the Falkland Islands. In total, only three journalists work here. Newspaper founder Graham Bound still writes regular columns. A small squad.
The newspaper is financed by advertising
But the weekly paper is successful, the circulation of 1000 copies is regularly sold out – a proud quota with just 3400 inhabitants of the British Overseas Territory. An issue costs 2 pounds (2.30 euros), plus several hundred paying online subscribers.
Reporting on the islands off the Argentine coast is always a challenge given the small road network and the long distances. Westfalkland is very difficult to reach, from there farmers keep sending a report to the editors. In the capital of Stanley in East Falkland, where around three quarters of the population live, access is much easier – especially since everyone seems to know each other.
“Penguin News” boss Lisa Watson attaches great importance to the fact that the paper, founded in 1979, is independent. There is no financial support from the government, the newspaper is mainly financed by advertising. However, there is an Achilles’ heel here, as companies could try to build up pressure. Due to the small number of inhabitants, there are several monopolies on the Falkland Islands, for example with the Internet operator.
The political system also has pitfalls. Formally a British overseas territory, the governor, who is delegated by the Queen, has primarily representative tasks. However, the eight directly elected MPs, whose areas of responsibility are somewhat similar to ministers, do not call the shots either. Ultimately, decisions are made by the directors of each business area and the “Chief Executive”, a member of the British Civil Service. The members of parliament and the governor are responsible for his appointment. Roberts criticizes that depending on the interaction, it is difficult to obtain transparent insights into decisions.
Due to the tiny size of the islands, other things are more transparent than one would like. Roberts has to be careful, otherwise it’s too easy to identify anonymous people from his reports. «In my first report from the court, I also named the exact intersection in a witness statement. Immediately everyone knew: It can only have been this person, because the spot cannot be seen from the other side of the street, »he says.