Stop the suppression

July 9, 2014

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a Stop the Suppression campaign and is asking New Zealanders to get in behind a campaign to overhaul the name suppression laws in NZ.

“Sadly all too often child sex offenders prey on unsuspecting victims because they have previously been granted name suppression”, says Ruth Money, Campaign Spokesperson. “The current law needs to be revised to ensure these offenders can no longer hide behind suppression that is granted to protect the victims of their crimes, not the offender”.

“We are encouraging media to stop reporting the relationship between the offender and the victim. This would then allow the offender to be named and the public to be aware and therefore more protected. No one needs to know a sex offender assaulted his niece for example, we just need to know his name so we can ensure he doesn’t end up harming our kids in the future” states Money.

“In New Zealand, on average, 30 convicted child sex offenders are granted final name suppression each year. Where these men and women now live or work is a complete mystery – we believe this is a public risk. Would you want them coaching your kids or running a motel for example?” . . .

Outspoken justice campaigner Derryn Hinch is visiting from Australia this week to assist with the campaign launch and will be encouraging kiwis to sign the Stop The Suppression Petition. . .

The petition is here.

The media often they give details of the case and the relationship with the victim which would enable the victim to be identified.

In some cases suppressing those details could allow the accused, or convicted person, to be named without risking the victim’s right to anonymity.

Sometimes victims are willing to be named but suppression orders prevent them from being identified and often as a consequence from telling their stories which could help others.

Victims should not be made to feel there is any reason for them to be ashamed and giving them the choice of whether their names are suppressed or not could empower them.

Another problem of publishing details without identifying the accused is that it can cast aspersions on other innocent people.

A few years ago, for example, a comedian was accused of child abuse and sufficient details were given to spread doubt over several other comedians who were innocent.

Suppression has a place, but there is a case for changing the law so that the guilty can be named without breaching victims’ rights, to decrease the likelihood of further offending and to stop publication of selective details incriminating innocent people.


Day of the journalist

June 9, 2014

Saturday was the Day of the Journalist, if not everywhere it was somehwere in the world where they speak Spanish.

"Sin periodistas no hay periodismo sin periodismo no hay democracia" #FelizDiadelPeriodista


Real problem is public funding

June 8, 2014

The Taxpayers’ Union is understandably aghast that the Electoral Commission is giving The Civilian Party $33,000 for election broadcasts.

David Farrar has a table showing the amount allocated to the main parties, and comparing it to their party vote last time, and the average in the public polls since the election (up until when the Commission met).

. . . These are not the only two criteria, but it is interesting to look at the results. Based on vote at the last elections National and Conservatives get a $1 per vote. Labour, Greens and NZ First $1.36 to $1.62 and the smaller parties $3 to $5. This is pretty standard that the smaller parties get proportionally a bit more.

In terms of dollars per average % in the polls, National gets $23,000 per %, Labour $28,000, Greens $33,000, Conservatives $38,000 and NZ First 38,000.

That doesn’t seem entirely fair.

However, my main concern is not who gets who much, but that political parties get any public money for campaigning at all.

They’re voluntary organisations and should fund their own broadcasts.


Oamaru There and Back

May 25, 2014

TVNZ Heartland’s There and Back aims to discover the real people behind television moments that put New Zealand small towns on the map.

A recent show featured Oamaru.


Covert’s the problem not overt

May 20, 2014

Maori broadcaster Julian Wilcox has no plans to stand for the Labour Party.

Maori TV said in a statement titled “Response to Media Speculation” that Mr Wilcox remained committed to his job as general manager of news and current affairs.

Chief executive Paora Maxwell said: “MTS accepts Mr Wilcox’s written statement and we will continue to value our editorial independence in providing impartial and independent news coverage of significant regional and national stories from a Maori perspective.”

Mr Wilcox was one of several journalists whose political ambitions or connections were questioned last week. . .

And a questions till remains – does he have any affiliation to or bias towards the Labour Party?

In the wake of the Shane Taurima furore, TVNZ has banned political journalists from joining political parties.

But as Karl du Fresne points out, the rules won’t eliminate the most troubling bias.

I struggle to accept that being a political journalist necessarily requires you to neuter yourself as a citizen. The crucial issue, surely, is how you do the job. Journalists should be judged on the fairness and impartiality of their reporting and commentary. It’s possible to be a party member and still be even-handed as a journalist.

I can think of relatively high-profile journalists who hold strong left-wing views in private but still manage to do their work with integrity, as the journalists’ code of ethics requires. There are also journalists and commentators (Paul Henry and John Campbell, for example) who quite openly lean one way or the other – but since their politics are no secret, viewers can decide for themselves how much weight to place on whatever they might say.

These are not the people who worry me. The ones we should really be concerned about are the journalists who hold pronounced political views that are not declared, but which permeate their reportage. There are a lot of them about, probably more than ever before, and they will never be controlled by arbitrary rules – such as TVNZ is now imposing – about declarations of political interest.

Last week news broke that lawyer and broadcaster Linda Clark, who is a political commentator for TV3 and occasional panelist on RadioNZ’s Afternoons, had been giving media training to David Cunliffe.

This wasn’t confirmed but du Fresne says she’s probably not the only one.

. . . If what I hear is correct, quite a few high-profile media figures have nice little undisclosed earners providing advice to politicians. In fact it’s an odd quirk of New Zealand politics that many of the commentators provided with media platforms for their supposedly objective views are hopelessly compromised.

If it’s fair to unmask Clark for grazing on both sides of the fence, then let’s complete the job by exposing all the others who are on the take. This could get very interesting.

It’s not the overt political leanings which are a threat to fair and balanced reporting, it’s the covert ones.

If we know the biases of journalists and commentators we can make an informed judgement on their work.

Without that knowledge we can only wonder.


No choice re Taurima

May 13, 2014

The Labour Party had been delaying the selection of a candidate in the Tamaki Makaurau electorate in the hope that Shane Taurima would be cleared of wrong-doing at TVNZ.

He wasn’t which left them with no choice but to disallow his nomination.

The former TVNZ manager and presenter was forced to resign from the broadcaster because of his involvement in Labour party campaigning.

The party’s ruling body met last night and decided not to grant a waiver to Mr Taurima, meaning his nomination cannot go ahead.

Mr Taurima needed the waiver because he’d been a party member for less than a year when he was nominated for the seat. . .

The report into his conduct found no bias but it did find misuse of his employer’s resources.

An independent review has found the former General Manager of TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific Programmes department did misuse company resources for political activities with the Labour Party.

But the panel cleared Shane Taurima of any political bias in his interviews and the editorial content he produced for TVNZ programmes. . . .

In the  full report released today , the panel said it scrutinised Mr Taurima’s first interview with National MP Paula Bennett on TVNZ’s Q + A programme in March 2012 in particular, after critics claimed he “browbeat the Minister”.

Mr Taurima said the interview was not his best work, but the panel found “it did not show evidence of bias”.

The panel also said the three other staffers involved had an “extremely limited ability to influence editorial content” and there was no evidence they had tried to do so.

‘Inappropriate use of resources’

The panel did find that TVNZ resources “were used inappropriately” for Labour Party political purposes by Mr Taurima and three members of his staff – none of whom are still employed by TVNZ.

The panel said the “financial cost was negligible but, aside from this, it should not have happened.”

The panel cited an instance where TVNZ funds were used to transport a TVNZ staff member to a meeting at Mr Taurima’s house “to establish two Labour Party branches”. The panel said it recommends TVNZ seek reimbursement for this expense.

Mr Kenrick says: “What happened was completely unacceptable. It’s an absolute necessity for our News and Current Affairs service to operate free from political influence.” . .

The sum of money might not be large but the blatant misuse of employer’s money in that way would be bad enough in itself.

That is was for political purposes when the employer is a a state broadcaster is far worse.

. . . Mr Kenrick says he accepts “that there were shortcomings in our management of Shane when he returned to TVNZ, and that won’t happen again.”

He says the company already has a number of checks and balances in place to protect the integrity of news coverage. But he says TVNZ will immediately take steps to tighten internal protocols, as recommended, to protect the editorial independence of its news.

The report has identified roles in TVNZ’s News and Current Affairs division where the review panel believes political party membership and active support for a political party is untenable. These are roles that carry significant editorial influence and include political reporters, senior content producers, editors and news managers, and the Chief Executive as Editor in Chief.

“We won’t be asking our staff to tell us who they vote for. But we think it’s reasonable to ask anyone who reports, edits or produces political content to be upfront with us if they’re a member of a political party. Anyone who creates news content for TVNZ should disclose any political activity beyond passive party membership,” Mr Kenrick says. . .

Freedom of association is important but so to is balance and fairness in a state broadcaster.

Active membership in a political party would give the perception of bias – whether or not it was real – and that is untenable.


Congratulations Cameron

May 10, 2014

Cameron Slater won the Best Blog at the Canon Media Awards last night.

The award recognises the impact he makes with Whaleoil.

It doesn’t condone all, or in fact any, of his posts.

I find some offensive and don’t bother going past the headline on many.

But some are well researched and break news  and make an impact in a way no other blog in New Zealand does.

Congratulations, Cameron, that’s why you got the award and you deserved it.

 

 


Blame the media

May 2, 2014

Trans-Tasman opines:

You can’t say anything critical about the Labour Party at the moment it seems, without being accused of bias. The party’s activists, both at MP and grassroots/social media level, have become extraordinarily chippy and defensive of late. The one big policy initiative this week, the compulsory savings and monetary policy announcement, was accompanied, in finance spokesman David Parker’s speech, by an extraordinary amount of defensive rhetoric about how much the party is being mis-represented.

It is not just the usual politican’s slag-the-media, get-your-retaliation-in-first tactic. There is a genuine and rising tide of bile among Labour folk towards what they feel is a biased and pro-National political media.

Labour keeps doing stupid things, not to report that would be bias.

Bias comes in many forms though: in media matters, the most important is narrative and confirmation bias rather than ideological. If you go back a decade, the narrative bias was Labour’s Helen Clark was all-competent, all-effective, while National had trouble finding its own backside with both hands. If an expectation has been created of a certain type of behaviour, journalists will go looking for it. As a matter of substance, Labour leader David Cunliffe’s bogus claim of a grandfather with a Military Medal is pretty trivial. Most of us have family oral histories with an element of embroidery about them. But against a background of playing too cute with the facts it was asking for trouble.

The medal claim wouldn’t have been perceived so negatively, and covered so widely, had Cunliffe not already had a reputation for gilding the lily.

Most of us are not political leaders, and most of us are not putting such matters of family history into speeches aimed at garnering political support. The only way to counter this bias is to stop doing things which feed it. . .

That doesn’t mean letting media training turn you into an automaton:

 

 


Interesting or important

April 17, 2014

Don Brash posts on Facebook:

What intrigues me about media reaction to the book so far is that almost all of it has focused on either (a) my personal life (which occupies a very small part of the book) or (b) my relationship with John Key, and what he and I may or may not have agreed in a motel room in Blenheim late in 2004. Oh yes, and Kim Hill spent quite a bit of time in her interview with me talking about the Exclusive Brethren.

I have seen no comment at all on my views on drug policy; or the importance of treating all New Zealanders as equal before the law; or the importance that we should attach to all immigrants signing up to key aspects of the New Zealand way of life (equality of men and women, access for girls to education, freedom to worship God or not to worship God, etc.); or my worries about religious fundamentalism; or my views on our relationship with China; or my concern that a very high rate of immigration in recent decades may be contributing to both our slow rate of growth in per capita income and our over-valued real exchange rate; or my overall assessment of the Key Government; or indeed my concern for the future of democracy.

It’s a slightly depressing reflection on what the media think interests the general public.

Only slightly depressing?

We do get some good analysis in the media but too often, as Brash observes, what might be considered of interest gets attention and what’s really important is ignored.

Andrei left this comment yesterday:

Good Lord – this is inane.

We are on the brink of the Third World War, perhaps the only hope of staving it off is a conference in Geneva due to take place
tomorrow and as we speak any hope of that conference taking place is being sabotaged by evil men

This is Holy Week and very unholy it is, blood is being spilled to advance the cause of darkness and chaos.

Apologies for the threadjack.

If you pray, pray for peace.

How many of us know what he’s talking about?

How many of us understand the issues?

How much coverage and analysis are we getting on them?

 


To be seen or not to be seen

April 16, 2014

Campbell Live wanted to do a series on party leaders at home.

It is the sort of publicity politicians can’t buy and an opportunity to show voters the people behind the politics.

John Key was first up last week.

Peter Dunne and Winston Peters declined to take part.

David Cunliffe was scheduled for Monday evening this week  but he pulled out.

. . . Mr Cunliffe has also cancelled an invitation for a second time to have television cameras in his home for an election year leaders series. Mr Parker says Mr Cunliffe has a young family and a right to privacy. . .

His family does have a right to privacy but if last week’s session at home with the Keys was anything to go by, there would have been no need for the family to be involved.

It is much more likely he doesn’t want people to see he doesn’t live in a modest house, in a modest suburb.

The family was a silly excuse and his decision an error of judgement similar to turning down the invitation for a weekly interview on the Farming Show.

It has been compounded by his not turning up in parliament at Question Time, choosing to address some business leaders instead.

We’re not hearing him on the Farming Show, we’re not see him on TV and we’re not seeing him in the House yet only last week he was complaining because he wasn’t going to be seen enough with the Royals.

Does he want to be seen and heard or doesn’t he?


Facebook fears, food fads and a furious pear

April 15, 2014

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* Here’s what Facebook’s doing to your brain: it’s kind of shocking

* The Most Challenging Dinner Guest Ever: And 5 Delicious Meals To Feed Them (and yes I do understand that allergies aren’t fads, but let’s not the facts get in the way of an alliterative headline) from The Kitchen.Com

And

* The Furious Pear Pie

 

 


Press freedom

April 14, 2014

New Zealand’s in the top tier again:


When did you last see a topless Maori dancer?

April 6, 2014

The Telegraph reports:

Topless female Maori dancers will cover up when they greet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the start of their tour, according to a Maori expert.

Tredegar Hall, a member of the London-based Maori club Ngati Ranana, said male dancers wearing grass skirts had also been instructed to add underwear for the ceremonial welcome in Wellington on Monday. . .

 

It is possible Hall knows more about Maori protocol than I do but I can’t recall ever seeing topless Maori dancers.


Farming Show says no to Cunliffe

April 3, 2014

The Farming Show has interviewed the leaders of the National and labour parties each week for years.

When Jamie Mackay offered the spot to David Cunliffe he turned it down and Jamie wasn’t impressed.

Cunliffe has now had second thoughts:

CALLER PETER:   Good morning, Mr Cunliffe.
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Morning.
CALLER PETER:   I was just wondering if you could explain why you’ve refused to appear on the Farming Show.
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Actually, you know what? I’ll make an offer to you today. I’m happy to do that. I’ve changed my mind.
TIM FOOKES:     Why did you say no, though? This is…
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Because I was told before I became leader that the particular show used to ridicule my predecessor in a way that was grossly unfair. Now, that may or may not be true, but that’s what I was told. I accepted that advice, and I declined to appear. This is…
CALLER PETER:   Russel Norman appears on it.
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yes, and I’ll tell you what, I’m making a commitment today: if I get a call from Jamie Mackay, invite me on, I’ll do it. There you go.
TIM FOOKES:     There you go, Peter. Look, the problem is, if you’ve said no, do you expect Jamie Mackay to come knocking on your door and saying, look, if you’ve now said yes, will you come back?
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             It’s a good offer. It’s up to him. Doesn’t worry me either way.
TIM FOOKES:     I mean, this is the thing – and I was very surprised when you said no, or when your office said no, because you need, it appears, to get out there and to get among people, especially farmers and people who want – you know, want a bit of a…
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yes, look, believe it or not, I actually kind of like farming. I grew up in a farming district, South Canterbury. I spent a year working on a shearing gang and on a cropping farm. And I got dirt under my fingernails. In fact, I spent a fair while mucking out pigpens as well, but that’s another story. Oh, I could tell you some stories about pigpens. But I won’t.

Mackay is a professional.

He sometimes asks tough questions and he is sometimes irreverent but I have never heard him treat a politician unfairly.

Cunliffe obviously realises he made a mistake and has had second thoughts but the Farming Show host has not.

Everyone makes mistakes and this one has come back to bite Cunliffe.

He’s missed an opportunity to speak to provincial New Zealand – and city people who tune into Radio Sport from 12 -1pm.

But worse for him, in the interests of balance and on the advice of Damien O’Connor, Mackay already invited Shane Jones to appear.


More coverage, new powers for Press Council

March 24, 2014

The New Zealand Press Council is to offer membership to new digital media and gain additional powers to deal with complaints against traditional print media.

The moves follow a review of the Press Council by its main funder, the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, which considered recommendations by the Press Council and a report last year by the Law Commission.

The Press Council was established in 1972 to adjudicate on complaints against member newspapers. Newspaper publishers decided to include magazines in 1998 and the council’s mandate was further expanded in 2002 to include members’ websites. Current chair is former High Court judge Sir John Hansen and the council has a majority of non-media industry members.

Newspaper Publishers’ Association editorial director Rick Neville, who chairs the Press Council’s executive committee, said most publishers felt the time had come to strengthen the Press Council’s authority, and to extend its coverage to handle complaints against digital media, including bloggers.

“The media world is changing and fragmenting. It’s important that a body set up to maintain high standards, and provide an avenue for reader complaints, keeps pace with those changes.”

Sir John Hansen welcomed the industry’s initiative in broadening the council’s remit by offering coverage to digital media while also providing more tools to deal effectively with complaints.

“It’s important that all consumers of media have an avenue for complaint, and for them to believe their complaint has been handled with fairness and professionalism. ”

Under the present structure, newspapers and magazines pay an annual membership fee to the Press Council. They are also required to abide by the council’s statement of principles and accept the council’s complaints processes.

The intention is to offer a new form of membership to other, non-newspaper digital media, conditional on their agreeing to the same conditions as those applying to current members. A new fee structure will be set based on the size of the digital entity and its commercial or non-commercial status. The new structure, including changes affecting current members of the Press Council, will take effect from May 1.

Among the new powers being taken on by the council is the right, in exceptional circumstances, to censure a newspaper, magazine or website. Such a move would require a unanimous decision from the Press Council.

The council is also assuming greater powers to direct where an adjudication should appear in a publication, and members will be required to regularly publicise the existence of the Press Council and how complaints should be pursued. For instance, where an offending article has been published on one or more of the first three pages of a newspaper, the council will be able to direct an adjudication to be published on page three. Similar placement requirements will cover magazines and websites.

Editors will be required to publicise the council’s complaints processes by way of a fortnightly item at either the foot of a news briefs column, or on the editorial or letters page. Regular notices will also have to be published in member magazines and websites.

Member websites will be required to provide an easy-to-find complaints channel, advising how viewers can make a complaint to the media organization, then onto the Press Council if the complainant remains dissatisfied.

Where the council believes the potential harm or damage to an individual or organization outweighs the need to keep the public record straight, it will have the right to direct the excising of elements of a story from an online article, or for an article to be taken down.

Last year, the Law Commission produced a report entitled The News Media Meets ‘New Media’. It recommended the merger of the Press Council, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the broadcasters’ Online Media Standards Authority (OMSA) into a new, self-regulatory body to handle complaints against all media. The majority of print media opposed the recommendation, preferring instead to strengthen the Press Council.

The Government opted not to act on the Law Commission’s proposals but Ministers gave notice that they wanted to see media self-regulation continue to improve, and to cater for complaints against digital media.

This will be opt-in but will offer standing to non traditional media, including I presume blogs, which choose to take up the offer, and are accepted.

It will require responsibility and give some protection.

This move could also give credence to bloggers’ right to maintain confidentiality of sources as traditional media do.


How not to write a media release

March 18, 2014

A good media release should answer all the appropriate ws – who, what, where, when, why and how.

Labour’s announcement of its candidate for Tukituki tells us the basic who,  Anna Lorck, for where and when she was selected.

It also tries to say how:

She was selected today from a field of three strong candidates to represent Labour.

Moira Coatsworth said today:

“A great crowd of Labour members attended today’s selection meeting. . .

That is trying to put a positive spin on Labour’s undemocratic selection process which gives more power to unions and head office than local members.

But the glaring omission from the release is answering anything about what the candidate’s background and credentials are.

The party has had a run of SMOGs – social media own goals – and now it’s failing to get an old-fashioned media release right.

A selection announcement is a golden opportunity to promote a new candidate but all this release did is put paint-by-number platitudes in her mouth.


Sol3 Mio

March 1, 2014

Interview of the week

Jim Mora in conversation with Sol3 Mio  and obviously enjoying their music and humour.


Bias in business as usual?

February 26, 2014

TVNZ has announced the panel to review the misuse of company resources and alleged political bias.

It includes media law expert Steven Price and broadcasting figure Bill Francis.

Price is a barrister specialising in media law and lectures at Victoria University of Wellington’s law school. Francis is the Chief Executive of the Radio Broadcasters Association with more than 45 years broadcasting experience. . .

The review panel will be chaired by Brent McAnulty, TVNZ’s Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs, and be joined by others as needed – to provide Maori language expertise, for instance.

The panel will investigate the inappropriate use of TVNZ resources within its Maori and Pacific Programmes department for political means between February 2013 and February 2014.

It will also determine whether any obvious political bias can be identified in the department’s programmes during that period or in Q+A interviews conducted by the former General Manager of Maori and Pacific Programmes, Shane Taurima, during his time on the show (March to November 2012).

Stephen Franks has a defence for Shane Taurima whose activism in the Labour Party sparked the investigation.

He and his colleagues may have grounds to claim to the just announced enquiry, that they thought the employer had acquiesced in their activism, or tacitly approved it. In other words they were simply getting with the programme.

Employment Courts often over-ride terms of employment contracts and express workplace rules, if they’ve been ignored in practice.

State broadcasters work in a milieu of implicit support for the left, and barely suppressed contempt for and suspicion of others. Maori in State broadcasting have been allowed for decades to act as if they’ve had an exemption from Broadcasting Standards requirements for balance. They’ve almost universally acted on a right to promote “Maori aspirations” (often equated to the Maori Party), to call the ‘race card’ on anyone who questions those “aspirations” irrespective of the legal orthodoxy of the question or challenge. . .

It would not take much diligence to find plenty of examples of decades long practice from which Maori broadcasters might assume that the obligations of objectivity and political neutrality were waived for them.

Any regular audience members of Maori and Pacific programmes on TV and radio could find examples to support this view.

Topics chosen, the angle taken on issues, the people chosen to comment on them as well as the questions asked and the way they’re asked can all result in a lack of balance and fairness.

Business as usual can easily be biased, intentionally or not, if a particular world view is accepted without question.

 

 


Debates for PM and would-be not minor players

February 24, 2014

The Green Party wants to be in the main leaders’ debates on television:

. . . The Greens have made a formal request to TV One and TV3 for a co-leader to join the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition, rather than take part in the minor parties debate – which has been the typical election format.

The Greens say their 12 percent polling position puts them in a different league to the other smaller parties which are polling around 5 percent or less.

They might be the biggest of the wee parties but neither of their co-leaders is going to be Prime Minister nor lead the opposition.

The National and Labour leaders aren’t invited to debate just because of their parties’ size or popularity but because the winner will lead the country and the other will lead the opposition.

The debates are designed to allow us to see and hear from the PM and the one trying to replace him and mercifully neither of the Green co-leaders will hold either of those positions.


Being human

February 23, 2014

Quote of the day:

“. . . The country’s best-read blogs are all political, they’re all partisan, and they make no apology for it. Indeed, journalists in the mainstream media might learn a thing or two from that: television viewers and newspaper readers would prefer that journalists be transparently partisan than pretend to some high-and-mighty objectivity that nobody can ever really achieve. Everyone has a world view, and it affects how they interpret and report the events around them. That’s called being human. . . . ”  Jonathan Milne

Journalists in the mainstream media, especially if it’s state owned, have a duty to be balanced, fair and objective.

That doesn’t mean not having views, it means not letting those views cloud their judgement or influence their work.


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