My good friend Brian Edwards is fed up to the back teeth with Fair Go. ¬†The current incarnation of it, anyway.
But is¬†Fair Go¬†today really any different to the programme which I devised, hosted and for a time produced in the late 70s and early 80s? In one major respect it is. Throughout that period the programme was broadcast live. Where possible the complainee was cross-examined live in the studio. As a viewer you got to see every question that was asked and every answer that was given. This ‚Äėopen justice‚Äô constituted a significant protection for the complainee and served to keep the programme honest.
Nothing that you see on¬†Fair Go¬†today is live. Everything is pre-recorded. In many cases the original interview with the complainee will have been several times longer than the 2 or 3 minutes you see on the programme. As a viewer you have no idea how many or which questions or answers were cut out or whether the edited version fairly or honestly reflects the original. In our experience of dealing with¬†Fair Go¬†complainees who agreed to be interviewed for the programme, many claim to have been repeatedly asked essentially the same question, a method common in police interrogations. Most thought the broadcast edited version bore little resemblance to the original. Most regretted having agreed to be interviewed.
For some years now¬†Fair Go¬†has been a programme out of control. Its reporters, with the notable exceptions of Hannah Wallace and Kevin Milne, ¬†about whom we have never received a single complaint, are power-drunk bullies, its journalism is suspect, its honesty open to question.
Well, that’s pretty clear. ¬†You mean, Fair Go is like most other media where they just write/produce to a preconceived idea instead of following where the story actually goes?
But Brian lists a survival kit set of rules if you find yourself at the wrong end of “Fair” Go.
*Have nothing to do with them.
*If they send you an email, do not reply.
*If they phone you, hang up.
*If they come on to your property, ask them to leave. Repeat your request more than once. If they remain on the property, call the police.
*If they harass you in a public place, ask them politely to go away and leave you alone. Do not run, hide your face or say ‚ÄėNo comment‚Äô.
*If the harassment continues, write a letter of complaint to the Chief Executive of TVNZ as soon as you return home or to your business. Send a copy of your letter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, marked FYI.
*Talking to¬†Fair Go¬†is the worst thing you can do. Your replies will be taken out of context and used against you.
*Do not send the programme a written statement. Your statement will almost never be broadcast in full. It will be heavily edited, parts taken out of context and used against you.
*Engaging with¬†Fair Go¬†is almost certain to do you more harm than good. They have already made up their mind about you.
*If, despite all of this, the programme proceeds and is inaccurate or unfair, complain immediately in writing to The Chief Executive of TVNZ. If your complaint is rejected or not satisfactorily dealt with, complain in writing to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. You can obtain a brochure on the complaints process by emailing¬†[email protected]
*And by the way: If you‚Äôre a company,¬†Fair Go¬†has now discovered a way of compelling you to reveal confidential business information to them on pain of prosecution. That is extremely concerning.
*Finally, if there is substance to a¬†Fair Go¬†complaint against you, put things right immediately. Our advice is not designed to help the guilty.
That’s pretty good advice in general. ¬†Do not speak to media. ¬†At all. ¬†One thing you can be sure ¬†of: ¬†the final story, piece or article will bear little resemblance to what you expect it to be like.