Better to know bias

Shane Taurima, general manager of TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific Programmes and Q + A interviewer, is seeking to be Labour’s candidate in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election.

He  said he wasn’t a member of the party last week which, as Keeping Stock, points out, means he will have to get a special waiver from the party’s ruling council.

The party’s rules allow that, and I would be surprised if other parties don’t have a similar rule.

If they are sensible, it’s not one they’d employ often.

Taurima blames his non-membership on his job:

He said Horomia, who died last month after battling a number of health issues, had spoken to him in the past about entering politics. . .

. . . “Given my career choice and the absolute need to be impartial, apolitical and professional I would politely decline his approaches and he respected me for that. It wasn’t my time back then. I wasn’t ready. But I am ready now.” . . .

The need to be impartial, apolitical and professional in his work is unquestioned. But is that achieved by hiding strong support for a party?

Wouldn’t it be better for someone in his position to be upfront about his political leanings?

Isn’t it better for viewers to know about a bias and be the judge of whether that affects his work than to hide it and have them wondering?

5 Responses to Better to know bias

  1. Armchair Critic says:

    It’s difficult to work out what your position is on the issue, Ele. The title of the post is a statement, whereas the post finishes with a series of questions. So I’m assuming you are open minded and could be convinced either way.
    I don’t care either way about the “member for at least a year” rule or the option of waiving it, in any party. Since I am not a member of any political party, what business is it of mine?
    On the topic of broadcasters declaring their political leanings, some positives would be:
    It would be helpful, kind of like country of origin and ingredients labelling for food.
    It would finally resolve the issue of whether the media are biased to the left or right.
    However, it would be difficult to implement. If you do believe that Mr Taurima should have declared his support for the Labour party, it would help frame any discussion if you could suggest what guidelines would apply for broadcasters. Would it include TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, internet? What would trigger the requirement for a declaration of support, an interview, the start of a publication, or just at regular time intervals? What form would the declaration of support take?
    But before you consider any of that, the practical implementation looks a lot like an exercise in bureaucracy, and I’m pretty sure the National party say they are for cutting red tape and bureaucracy.
    Moreover, it would mean requiring a group of people give up their right to a secret ballot.
    Maybe the benefits of exposing the media as a bunch of anti-National left wingers would outweigh all that.


  2. TraceyS says:

    “Given my career choice and the absolute need to be impartial, apolitical…”

    No problem with a requirement to be either impartial or professional. But if a career choice requires a person to be “apolitical” then it is in breech of section 21(1)(j) of the Human Rights Act 1993.

    Political opinion is prohibited as grounds for discrimination.


  3. Armchair Critic says:

    It was an interesting quote, Tracey, and might be more accurate if the word “be” was prefaced with “appear to”. I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and say there is nothing sinister or even deliberate in this particular choice or words.


  4. TraceyS says:

    But it was not prefaced with “appear to”. It was prefaced with “the absolute need to”. Misplaced your faith may be AC.


  5. Armchair Critic says:

    There’s only one person who can clear this up, and I doubt he’s reading this blog.


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