movement for media freedom meets


Step two inrecommendations from last weekend's historic "Journalism Matters" summit - to set up a Movement for Media Democracy - is under way.

About 10 people have turned up for the meeting, expected to face some big questions about a "crisis" in New Zealand journalism.

Agreement about worsening conditions for journalists brings New Zealand into line with news media across the Pacific Islands region - including Australia.

chatham won't stop media chat - so why do it?


Start of the first union-organised journalists conference for more than 20 years risks getting off to a muted start.

Use of "Chatham House Rules" means media can report what is said at the conference - they just cannot name who said it.

Such rules encourages delegates to comment freely, less fearful of being attacked for making controversial views public.

Or so the theory goes.

It still leaves a vaguely funny taste in the mouth. Journalists daily urge others to comment "on the record" improving transparency and accountability.

What does using Chatham House Rules say about our profession?

Either that or we lack the conviction of our courageous ideals. Or are just plain hypocrites, wanting cards on the table for everyone else, but Victorian style delicacy when discussing their own affairs.

It is this kind of secrecy that creates more damage than healing. Chatham House Rules promote a culture of deniability, where commentators back off from their own comments, leading others to back away from doing anything about problems and their alleged causes.

Perhaps the best argument against weasel words came from a US judge who denied an application from president George Bush to hold terrorism trials in secret.

"Democracy dies behind closed doors," he said in his ruling.

Sure, Chatham House Rules are a world away from Guantanamo bay and George Bush's terrifyingly incompetent war on terror, but any time journalists start using the same kind of fancy pants jargon as diplomats and bureaucrats, colleagues need to raise a skeptical eyebrow and ask why.

Across the region, New Zealand consistently urges Pacific Islands politicians to adopt more good governance measures.

In fact taxpayers fund millions in good governance assistance. It's a strange example to set, government banning satire and journalists refusing to be named.

Journalism matters - but does it really in New Zealand ?


Journalism summit this weekend
Journos to tackle declining news quality
Journos to meet today