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Blogs

Writing about St Helena

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Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly

Many people have written Blogs about St Helena. Here are some…

This page is in indexes: Island Detail

Blogs Saint Helena Island Info

Below: “Visitor” BlogsHistory BlogsOther BlogsRead More

This is not, by any means, a complete list of the blogs published about St Helena. It is simply those that have come to our attention and which, in our opinion, make useful reading. Many blogs relate primarily to family matters and we have not included those in this list. Others have simply not come to our attention. If you know of a blog that you think should be included below please contact us.

“Visitor” Blogs

These are blogs written by short-term visitors to St Helena

[LIVE] 6 Months A Saint

A journalistic project to spend 6 months on St Helena living “as Saints”. As at the time of writing{1} the blog is still being updated with collected material, though the project has finished.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 sixmonthsasaint.com

Related page: Could you live here?

Two Years in the Atlantic

The blog’s author, Paul Tyson, is the spouse of a teacher working at PAS. Paul began blogging soon after his arrival in August 2014. He is a photographer and his blog includes many photographs of the island and its people. It closed when he left in 2017.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 twoyearsintheatlantic.com

Related page: Photography

As far as you can go…

A recent visitor to St Helena, from June to August 2016. Good photo-rich blog.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 alanpmills.wordpress.com/category/as-far-as-you-can-go

Related page: Visitor Information

Notes from a (very) small island

Tom Holvey came to St Helena to work for the Government of St Helena. His blog recorded many of the experiences common to all who arrive from the UK, initially assuming St Helena to be “just like England, but warmer” and soon discovering that it’s actually very different.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 tpholvey.wordpress.com

Related page: Could you live here?

St Helena Island South Atlantic Adventure

Another “this place is not like England” blog, with many fascinating discoveries.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 standenadventure.blogspot.com

Related page: Could you live here?

The Banzai Chicken Blog

Mike Thorsen was on St Helena from January until November 2011 (though the post of January 2012 also relates). Mike is a professional photographer and the blog is full of well-observed images of St Helena (and elsewhere in the world).

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 banzaichicken.blogspot.com

Related page: Photography

The 5 Gigabyte Diet

St Helena from a more environmentalist perspective. Many good photographs. The title relates to the severe Internet bandwidth restrictions on St Helena.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 www.the5gigabytediet.com

Related page: Endemic Species

Three months on St Helena

Focussing on outdoor activities and sports this short blog is useful for those wanting to know more about what there is to do on St Helena.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 lifeonsthelena.wordpress.com

Related page: Sport in St Helena

Gillian Scott Moore St Helena

Fairly photo-rich blog about life here with plenty of amusing stories and a lot of food! Covers from August 2011 to August 2016.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 www.gsmhospitality.co.uk/gillsblog

Related page: Could you live here?

Little eyes on an island

St Helena from a child’s perspective

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 littleeyesonanisland.wordpress.com/author/sheonaabrown84

Related page: Could you live here?

Voyaging Victoria

World tour, with a stop on St Helena

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 www.voyagingvictoria.com

Related page: Visitor Information

Rambling Wombat visits St Helena

World tour, with a stop on St Helena

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 ramblingwombat.wordpress.com/category/st-helena

Related page: Visitor Information

History Blogs

These are blogs relating to St Helena’s history

[LIVE] Reflections on a journey to St Helena

Despite the title this blog is really about the history of St Helena, with particular reference to Napoleon.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 johntyrrell.blogspot.com

Related page: Napoleon Bonaparte

Saint Helena 15.55 South 5.43 West

This is another blog focussing on the history of St Helena. Sadly it seems it has not been updated since July 2012 but it still contains much useful information.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 jcgrimshaw.blogspot.co.uk

Related page: Island History

Other Blogs

[LIVE] St Helena Wirebird

A blog by the St Helena Tourist Office. Useful for knowing what’s happening and going to be happening on St Helena.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 sthelenatourism.com/blog

Related page: Our Newspapers

[LIVE] St Helena Online

South Atlantic news by former BBC journalist Simon Pipe. Not closed but nowadays only rarely updated.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 sthelenaonline.org

Related page: Our Newspapers

[LIVE] Much Older St Helena Stuff

Our own blog, featuring stories that became too old to carry on our Read articles about St Helena (Older) page.

blogs url flag Saint Helena Island Info

 mucholdersthelenastuff.blogspot.com

Related page: Read articles about St Helena (Older)

Search for other blogs on Google™ - ‘saint helena blog’ would be good keywords.

Read More

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.

Article: Censorship, St Helena Style

By Trevor W. Hearl, published in the ‘Wirebird’, the magazine of Friends of St Helena{2}. #13, Summer 1996{3}

Blogs are, of course, mostly un-censored, and in these days of the Internet and independent media it’s perhaps hard to believe that until St Helena only had Government-controlled media. And only ten years before that the island’s radio and newspaper were openly censored by the Government of St Helena. Writing in 1996, Trevor Hearl explores this…

Not since Napoleon, it is tempting to say, has anything focussed Press attention on St Helena more than the advent of TV. The BBC even ran a ‘Win a trip to St Helena’ competition in January 1996 asking youthful viewers for 200 words on ‘What is Life Like without Television?’ The winner, 12-year-old Amy Hutchings of Prestbury, Cheltenham; carried out her assignment - one of the most offbeat and amazing to date: a trip to tiny, remote St Helena to report for ‘Newsround’ - in a lightning visit at the end of May. But hardened newshounds have scented a less innocent story behind the facade of the Island’s homespun media - the spectre of censorship!

In a journalistic reconnaissance in 1993 BBC correspondent Mike Thomson was surprised to find that editorial control of St Helena’s press and radio was exercised, not by the editors, but by ‘Government’. A local colleague indeed confirmed that, on behalf of the authorities, he had to cover up in various ways things that have happened.

People know, but we’ve had to try and clear the air a little bit. There have been lots of times when I’d wanted to get to grips with things, and things have come my way which I wanted to use, but couldn’t.

Omnibus BBC Overseas Service 16th February 1994

When tackled by Thomson about a public feeling of censorship, the Chief Secretary John Perrott, argued that banning criticism of the Government from its own media was not censorship, but the proper management of a Government resource.

If you were running Heinz baked beans and you had a house magazine, you would not allow a member of your staff to rubbish the production line management system in your house magazine.

More recently, while viewers to Channel 4’s ‘Travelog’ programme were being whisked around St Helena by Richard Vaughan, they watched an embarrassed Radio presenter guardedly explain why he could only cover stories sanctioned by the Government:

It’s a Government Radio Station, and so the Government has the right to say what should, and should not, go out.

Travelog, Channel 4 TV, 31st January 1996

But Foreign Officer Minister Douglas Hogg denied any such practice. When answering George Foulkes on 10th January 1995, he assured the shadow spokesman on Overseas Development, that Radio St Helena is not subject to any statutory control. Given this conflict between Foreign Office (FCO) theory and St Helena Government (SHG) practice, it is hardly surprising if onlookers are confused. Yet far more serious to the delicate task of government, it poses a threat to credibility. What are the facts?

Two brief examples, local and overseas, must suffice. First, from London, a member of the Friends, David Parsons of St Helena Airways, sought to correct ‘misunderstandings’ of his airport proposal in the St Helena News twice without success, his letters disappearing into the ‘Office of the Chief Secretary’ without eliciting any correction. A far distant complainant, even one having invested £250,000 in an Island development project, can easily be snubbed but not, one might think, a local Legislative Councillor.

So let us take as our second case one with long experience in these matters.

In November 1993 Councillor Julian Cairns-Wicks proposed that the Administration cease to censor the St Helena News and items on St Helena Radio. But the Chief Secretary reminded the Legislative Council (LegCo) that information organs…are part of Government…(for) administering our internal affairs, and he assured them that discretion is left to the editor who consults for advice and not for instruction. We know this is not so, say Councillors privately. Such ‘errors’ left uncorrected make official records unreliable, creating cynicism now and problems for historians later.

BEYOND THE PALE

In 1990 Julian Cairns-Wicks started an independent, self-help newssheet as questions and comments sent to the Government newspaper and interviews conducted for the radio have not been released.

I consider this totally unwarranted censorship is an affront to every Saint Helenian and also reflects very badly on the way the British Government evidently wishes the Governor and his staff to conduct affairs.

No.1 p.1; 14th April 1990

The twenty issues of The New Wirebird, with its polite reporting of matters studiously shunned by the official media, will no doubt provide fuel for researchers. But its most alarming discovery was that a ‘free press’ could not exist on St Helena today, even if funded by a philanthropist, as the Castle would simply starve it of information. Thus all Cairns-Wicks’ enquiries were met by a sullen No comment from staff warned not to answer his questions. Even visitors were told to shun him!

(One) informed me that he was undecided if he should talk to me about his complaints or not as he had, and I quote, been warned not to talk to me…I can understand some Saints being nervous about talking to me, as they have some reason to worry about reprisals. But an ex-pat on holiday!

No wonder St Helena boasts a ‘bush telegraph’ of incredible vitality though regrettably one too weak on facts for serious seekers after knowledge.‘Frustration fatigue’ led to Cairns-Wicks’ resignation from LegCo on 16 February 1996. I did try, he wrote.

‘CENSORSHIP’ NO NOVELTY

Some control of the Press is, of course, inevitable. Historically the Island’s style has been generally mild, as I found when asked to cover St Helena for The Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English. It has waxed and waned ever since Saul Solomon imported the first press in 1806 which, in 1808 was taken over by Governor Beatson to promote wartime food production rather than the bickerings of the clergy, remaining under Government control thereafter. A second press arrived amid general rejoicing in 1851 to champion free speech and prosperity, but the strident tone of the new St Helena Advocate goaded Governor Gore Browne into putting it under surveillance for, as he explained to Earl Grey:

In the absence of matter of general interest, anonymous writers are too often tempted to devote their columns to personalities which in so limited a society as this are severely felt…

His ‘Newspapers Ordinance’ (No.2, 1851) - a masterpiece of legal pedantry - required periodicals to identify their publishers, printers and proprietors should action be needed against slanderous or libellous matter, though it did not prevent a couple of scurrilous papers, The Bug and The Mosquito, appearing briefly in 1888-9.

Men of ability have devoted time and talents ,to give the community a respected Press, however - Benjamin Grant of the St Helena Guardian for no less than 60 years (1861-1924). Its demise left the Island with only the monthly Diocesan Magazine, renamed The St Helena Magazine by Canon Walcott, its talented editor and printer for 30 years (1921-51), to allow more freedom of comment on items of local news, at times to the embarrassment of Bishops and Government. Education Officers produced a weekly newssheet from 1940, and from 1955 an admirable monthly magazine The Wirebird, though editor Charles Dixon felt that the Guardian had been far more outspoken than we are. He had yet to see Fred Ward’s caustic, uncensored, Voice of the Union!

‘Information’ was transferred to the Secretariat in 1966, since when ‘censorship’ has grown, ironically, with the Information Service. The Wirebird died, leaving only The St Helena News Review, a weekly folded foolscap sheet dubbed ‘The 2-Minute Silence’. With Legislative Council elections under the new Constitution and the political tensions of ‘the Thornton era’, Governments became less tolerant of criticism and resisted any extension of the local news service, especially into Radio, as I found in 1971. During 1971 W.C. Beauchamp published the monthly St Helena News & Comment Facts not Rumours - given free to the people…so that they can know more about things that are happening on the Island. The tiny St Helena News was not enlarged until 1986, and though it has since grown from two foolscap to 16 A4 pages weekly, ‘The Snooze’ as it is dubbed, still lacks popular appeal with its ‘civil service style’ and taint of censorship. On Radio St Helena live interviews have become a popular feature, though even innocent reflections on Government policy or practice by an interviewee are not forgotten in the Castle. The advent of television, meanwhile, brings new issues to the fore in the censorship debate.

WILL TV CHANGE THIS ARCADIA?

Most observers assume, like this headline in the Independent on Sunday (12th June 1994), that the ill-effects of television will outweigh the good in this paradise isle. Yet no-one asks what positive Code of Practice SHG requires of Cable & Wireless in its operation though, with the world’s Press watching TV’s impact on child behaviour some safeguards might have been expected. Police opinion that a decade of video-viewing has already generated a culture of violence is the kind of topic that gets ‘outlawed’ in the News. With the inevitable introduction of local material on St Helena TV the censorship issue will have to be faced. What might be the solution?

OUTLOOK

The test of media management is, of course, whether it is for the benefit of governed or, as in St Helena today, the governing. To devise and operate a fair system will not be easy. The British way - a Complaints Commission enforcing a Code of Practice balancing individual rights against journalists’ duty to serve the public interest within agreed professional and ethical standards - may offer guidance but no blueprint. The experience of similar communities would be more relevant.

The Falklands, with a small isolated population dependent on Government information services, may have most to offer. Its system, with a Media Trust of laymen controlling Press and Radio services funded by Government, appears to meet St Helena’s needs in principle. Whether it would in practice, across cultural differences, only trial could tell.

Many Saints seem to resent journalists more than censorship; freedom of information is an intrusive concept in a tight-knit village society where you don’t ask questions.

To argue that a free flow of knowledge and ideas is essential for social and economic development would be no vote-winner in Jamestown! As personalities, not policies, determine St Helena politics, agreement for reform may never be reached among Councillors. Nor can it be assumed that members of a Media Trust would be any more enlightened than Chief Secretaries; they may just ban different things!

What are the prospects? There is no lack of potential. St Helena could have an exemplary local Press and Information Service, creating an informed community and informing the world about St Helena. It need not pander to debased tastes to fight for circulation or ratings, and I see no dearth of potential copy to satisfy public interest. To exchange the arbitrary control of expatriate officials for the civilising guidance of a Code of Practice exercised in the public interest is a reform long overdue. Any system lacking respect is in no-one’s interest. The remedy, as Baroness Chalker recently told Councillors in another context, is in their hands and theirs alone.

HANSARD 23 April 1996 (Written questions Col. 81)

Dr Marek asked what plans there were to remove Government control over the St Helena broadcasting service.

Sir N. Bonsor: The St Helena Government are examining options for the management of Radio St Helena, including establishing a media trust.

Closing Humour Saint Helena Island Info Blogs

Laugh at funny Blogs humour LOL Saint Helena Island Info


Footnotes:

{1} .

{2} The four ‘Wirebird’ publications should not be confused. Read about them here.

{3} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.



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