FREE MUSIC! 18 million songs. Over 450,000 artists. Free the Music and Share the Love with iHeartRadio.

LISTEN LIVE TO NEWSTALK ZB

Newstalk ZB

ON AIR NOW

Keep up with
Newstalk ZB

Follow Us

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Select region

Site Search

Search Search

Political Report: Why media freedom matters

Share |

| Monday, August 05, 2013 6:00 AM

Political Report: Why media freedom matters
The Press Gallery’s been the news rather than reporting the news over the last week or so and it seems that’s ruffled some peoples’ sensibilities. We’ve raised a hue and a cry over the treatment of our colleague, Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance, by Parliamentary services and the Henry Inquiry, and it seems there are those who feel we’ve become a little self absorbed.

In fact there are some who’ve labelled us whiny, self-obsessed, and out of touch with the public.

Granted, I accept there will be many who have little time for my profession. Annual trust and respect surveys make it clear that for many of you your esteem for us is somewhere at the level whale poo ends up. We’re not popular. I’m fine with that. That’s not what we’re here for.

What we’re here for is to be your eyes and ears. To look into things you can’t, to hear the things you don’t have time to hear, and to find out the things that would be otherwise hidden from your attention. Some of this stuff (particularly politics) isn’t always pleasant and it’s not always what all of you want to know.

But some of you do.

And this is why the recent incidents at Parliament are so important. The stories we write and broadcast are generated from our sources. But the sources that start the story aren’t always the ones that end up in the copy. A source can set me on the right track to winkle out information from those in authority and need not necessarily end up in the story itself.

What do you think the chances are of this continuing once they realise it’s possible for those in Government to access our phone records, and monitor our movements around the parliamentary precinct?

The answer’s obvious; they’ll run a bloody mile.

We’re not being precious over being subjected to the same scrutiny that we apply to others. I know some think there’s a double standard at play, but there isn’t. People have to be free to speak to journalists in confidence and without the fear of negative consequences. And we have to be free to speak to them without their interests being compromised.

I think we in the Gallery have possibly been too trusting in using Parliament’s internal phone system and perhaps we are now reaping the consequences of that. But was it wrong of us to trust the long held traditions around the media’s role in Parliament as the public’s eyes and ears?

By passing on movement records and phone logs, be it accidental or deliberate, Parliamentary Services undermined a tenet that almost every politician in the country has said they support: a free media.

Media cannot be free if it’s monitored by the state.

Photo: Getty Images

Latest Opinion

Andrew Dickens: Easter and Everest

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Here we are on Easter Sunday. Our second most holy day. The country is clos ...

Susan's Memo: April 17

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two big stories this week: The royals and the weather. At times the storie ...

Mike's Editorial: Party leaders and thei ...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

So a motel room in Blenheim. Who would have thought? Strange things going ...

Rachel Smalley: Kiwi killed in drone str ...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It caught me by surprise, this rather flippant announcement that a New Zeal ...

The Soap Box: Collins crying over spilt ...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There's an old saying that if you're in a hole don't keep digging. That's ...

Susan's Memo: Royal visit an incredible ...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George, who is probably the mo ...

Advertisement
  • Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter dies at 76

  • Online lover kills woman after meeting her

  • Football: Liverpool win 3-2 at Norwich

  • More erosion prevention along the upper Waikato Ri ...

  • Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton wins 3-in-a-row

  • Ukraine rebels call for Russian troops

  • Auckland Weather

    17°
    Today
    Partly Cloudy
    H:24° L:16°
    Click for More Weather
    More Weather

    The Republic of NZ

    Should New Zealand cut ties with the monarchy and become a republic?

    Vote Now

    View Results