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Speaker: Who guards the guardians?

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    This is the second post to carry the following:

    The discussion will be moderated, however this moderation will be in accordance with the normal rules of moderation in this forum (link).

    without actually having a (link)...

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Thanks Graeme. There is a link to Public Address Rule One in the paragraph above, but I've added the user registration text too:

    While we encourage vigorous debate, we require forum users to refrain from personal abuse and aggressive behaviour towards others. Posts which breach this policy will be deleted by moderators and persistent offenders will be de-registered.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • HamishFraser,

    In regards to convergence of media, a futurist would look at the current situation and probably consider the development of digital "mobs" as a certainty (already a developing reality). In a simplistic sense if it's the news media's task to report the "facts" and "truths" and dispel inaccuracies - then in a time of real time, anywhere information distribution world - gossip and rumors are hugely amplified and it becomes even more important for the news media not to add to the echo chamber but perform their role.

    The hopeful chap inside of me argues however that with a much more level playing field - people will get their information from a much wider set of sources. This will be true to a degree BUT sadly I think the counter happens where generally people will drift to listen to those who say what they want to hear. If the news media aren't able to be there to cut through that then things will get very tribal.

    My view then is if regulation has been considered important in the past then convergence is no argument to throw it out.
    Accuracy ratings would not evolve well at all. Perhaps a redevelopment of actual News Media with strict ethics would prove to be increasingly wildly popular in my view with plenty of the other entertainment and disinformation on offer. The last thing we want is the situation in the States where news media divides the population with disinformation and feeds their respective fears.

    Since Mar 2012 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Nowadays it is so easy for any site to maintain a "corrections" page, but I can't think of a single NZ media outlet that does. Perhaps if one did this in the interests of building a reputation as a quality news source, the others would follow out of competition, but I kinda doubt it.

    I'd love to see a well-resourced fact-checking service with an editorial voice that shamed the publishers of outrageous falsehoods. Something with sufficient moral authority that a notice from it actually could be a source of stories for competitors. For example, in the case of the N&S Asian Angst story, it would be great if they not only had to publish a correction but if some accessible, userfriendly, and unimpeachably independent website recorded this permanently. Some sort of levy on advertisers would be a great way to fund this, then advertisers can exert commercial pressure on publishers to be accurate.

    People might be interested to see that Press Council rulings are online. They make fascinating reading, but this isn't what I have in mind.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    I think the benefits of belonging need to be strong, clearly expressed and valuable. The body needs clear powers to expel and otherwise punish members (and a clear definition of the effect of membership/expulsion). Some token of acceptance of the rules would also be required, if for no other reason that expedited handling of members by government agents. For that reason there would need to be some kind of distinction between organisational and personal membership. Can I join as Moz, or do I need to be an associate of "Moz.com" that is a member?

    If the benefits are not worth having I don't see any point in compulsory membership. Taxing members according to ability to pay is important, as is not skewing the output accordingly. For serious punishment it is probably better to use the power of the state to crush offenders outright than just add another layer of bureaucrazy to an already glacial process.

    Today things move faster than the bought media can generally cope with - just watch coverage of any "breaking news" event in both bought media and citizen media. So by the time a complaint is officially received by the body the matter is generally forgotten about by 90% of those affected. In my case the police had already contacted the people harassing me and told them to use phone boxes to do so or they'd be prosecuted (itself a lengthy process) before the Press Council even accepted my complaint, let alone "acted" on it. "acted" meaning issued a warning to the organisation that what they'd done might be considered wrong by some people and if they did it again a more strongly worded warning might be issued.

    I keep returning to "equal time" as as response. It would be vastly entertaining and also effective to force a tabloid television program to devote an entire episode to explaining how stupid they had been and demonstrate the offensive behaviour on their own staff.

    Doing that quickly is paramount, and requiring other media to also cover any retraction or restitution as they covered the original offense. So I think the "complaints process" would need to react like the emergency services part of the legal system rather than the court part. "Justice delayed is justice denied" is a critical part of this.

    From Indymedia's perspective (usual caveats apply), I don't see that as a significant burden. It is very easy to pump a retraction onto the front page and link to it from the original story. Even redacting parts of the original story if required. For obvious reasons simply deleting stories off websites is an inappropriate response. Making someone available to attend complaints hearings or participate in the body would be more complex, but in this day and age teleconferencing would surely be the norm, making it both cheap and reasonable to meet at short notice.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Australia's Media Watch attempts to do this, but I think something slightly more permanent would be helpful. Perhaps requiring that reproductions of the story include the correction and a link to the judgement would help? And allowing citizen input to be recorded would allow third parties to help with the research rather than making them find and declare a connection.

    With TV this might be slightly complicated by the time limits, as not all stories subject to a complaint become worthless, but a 22 minute (half hour) story with even 2 minutes of corrections is going to be very hard to show on commercial TV. Not sure, perhaps allow a third party to edit it in light of the corrections?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Moz,

    but a 22 minute (half hour) story with even 2 minutes of corrections is going to be very hard to show on commercial TV.

    I dunno, look at the success of the Daily Show and Have I Got News For You. In fact never mind that, look at the success of Fair Go. Imagine a Fair Go focussed on media. Done right, it could appeal.

    I look at the Madison Police Blotter and think there is nothing that can't be made compelling.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I was talking more of the situations where "Tabloid Today" makes up something, gets forced to show a correction, then when it goes to resell/reshow that episode it no longer fits into a standard timeslot because the correction makes it too long.

    Media-monitoring shows are something that appeal to me and they do seem to have an audience world-wide. I think it would be worth while to get a decent presenter (a comedian, even) and back them with a decent research team. On John Scalzi's blog there have been responses to his "USA Today" post saying that some people are getting most of their news exposure from The Daily Show+Colbert Report. That's where my TV news exposure comes from, but given how little TV I watch 10 hours of those two shows a year is a big chunk of my total. I read blogs instead...

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Moz,

    I was talking more of the situations where “Tabloid Today” makes up something, gets forced to show a correction, then when it goes to resell/reshow that episode it no longer fits into a standard timeslot because the correction makes it too long.

    OK, that makes sense. Though I reckon that if the schedule gets disrupted because of the need to run a correction, that's a powerful incentive to not do things that need correcting.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    I'm wondering if there's something between what amounts to a blog by the media body that just lists the corrections, and a full-blown TV show/newspaper correction. A lot of the power of a correction is in its accessibility, and in that sense a professionally maintained wiki might be a useful adjunct to published corrections. Done well that could be a powerful tool in itself, with the potential to facilitate work by the likes of Idiot/Savant on media accuracy.

    To avoid the Streisand Effect I assume there will be the possibility of name suppression? Ideally with a compelled removal of archive copies that are under the control of the original publisher? I'm specifically trying to include things like copies of a Nelson Evening Mail article on Stuff being available via fairfax.com.au. I don't know how this works with TV, but I assume there's some similar thing where a DVD of a nominally fact-based show will have sections missing when a complaint has been upheld?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    I think it is important that there is a media watchdog. It is important that mistakes of fact are rectified. Any large media organisation should have to be a member, either compulsorily, or because voluntary membership has compelling reasons. I am unsure as to how “large” and “media” can be precisely defined.

    I think it is very important that any correction or retraction must be given the same weighting as the offending item. An error on the front page requires the retraction/correction on the front page. An error in the opening news bulletin => a correction as the opening news bulletin. An error in a promo for the TV news => a retraction/correction in a following promo.

    The punishment must be something that the media will strive to avoid, otherwise they will just carry on making mistakes and do the minimum necessary to correct them.

    With respect to web-pages, any correction must be annotated as such, say, with a bookmark explaining the reason for the correction (and perhaps describing the period over which the erroneous content was displayed). They should not be allowed to just remove or replace the erroneous information.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    But the point would be not to excise without comment, but to replace or amend the offending section (sentence, paragraph, article, etc.) with an explicit acknowledgement of why material has had to be removed or amended. As in, the process has to be seen to be working.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to linger,

    But the point would be not to excise without comment, but to replace or amend the offending section (sentence, paragraph, article, etc.) with an explicit acknowledgement of why material has had to be removed or amended. As in, the process has to be seen to be working.

    The top newspapers -- Guardian, NYT -- already do this in different ways. It's an example of traditional media taking cues from blogs and Wikipedia. In the case of anything other than a typo, I'll usually annotate rather than simply remove an error in my post -- although I don't have the patience to annotate every editing pass.

    But in blogs it's a cultural expectation rather than a rule. And cultural expectations are fairly easy to dodge.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I actually don't want a corrections system, because it would just give the newspapers a better appearance of credibility and the ability to fine-tune their propaganda.

    The real problem is that we allow one organisation (typically controlled by a few ultra-wealthy individuals) to have a complete monopoly of newspapers in each NZ city.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    And somehow mining heiress Gina Rinehart's recent stakeholding in Fairfax isn't for the actual financial returns.

    What we need is nothing less than a Justice Leveson or Finkelstein.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Rose,

    As an example I am aware of a several journalists who have evidence crucial to the effect of the transpacific trade deal on New Zealand and its negative implications, but have been categorically told report on it and you will lose your jobs, this related specifically to the allocation of advertising dollars during the last election and word from the powers that be do so at your peril.

    New Zealand • Since Mar 2012 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Rose, in reply to Dan Rose,

    Apologies Half of my post was cut off. The basic premise was who do you report that kind of information to, as I have tried and no one wants to touch it, least of all mainstream media.

    New Zealand • Since Mar 2012 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • shug,

    "A free press is critical to a democracy" might be true, but a press monopolised by multi-national corporations is not 'free'. I'd suggest everyone read Manufacturing Consent and get a good understanding of how the distorting filters work in these organisations and how in turn it controls, frames and influences public discourse and democratic process. The reference above to the Guardian and NYT as "top newspapers" is interesting, the NYT in particular played a leading role in supporting US government propaganda in the lead up the the Iraq invasion (this along with many other cases is documented in Chomsky and Herman's book). These organisations respond to corporate power not the public interest; their role is not to sell newspapers to readers; it's to sell readers to advertisers.

    Since Mar 2012 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    If you're not paying for it, you are the product.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Dan Rose,

    The basic premise was who do you report that kind of information to, as I have tried and no one wants to touch it, least of all mainstream media.

    Maybe those Silicon Valley companies that Blacked Out in opposition to SOPA and PIPA?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Rose, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Most Helpful thank you DeepRed

    New Zealand • Since Mar 2012 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    I’d suggest everyone read Manufacturing Consent and get a good understanding of how the distorting filters work in these organisations and how in turn it controls, frames and influences public discourse and democratic process.

    Exactly, when attempting to query the political appropriateness of this project at stuff.co.nz, I was moderated at every turn. $

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Rose, in reply to chris,

    I have all but given up posting at stuff.co.nz,"moderated" perhaps should be deemed censorship of any contrary position, especially given the almost infomercial substance of a majority of content.

    New Zealand • Since Mar 2012 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Rose,

    I find this a perfect example of public opinion vs forced journalistic opinion: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/03/world/middleeast/obama-says-military-option-on-iran-not-a-bluff.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2 Check the comments section on the reader picks and the nyt picks. Note the tilt on the nyt picks for corporate interests.

    New Zealand • Since Mar 2012 • 5 posts Report Reply

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