‘Responsible’ news reporting

Reading through part of a recent 250-page court ruling last night, I was intrigued by references to ‘responsible’ news reporting and a thing called the Press Council which apparently upholds the virtues of ‘accuracy, fairness and balance’. This was certainly news to me and something I felt I should learn more of.

I conducted an experiment to test said ‘responsible’ reportage. I took verbatim a recent, highly publicised statement from an MP expressing the view that concern should be felt by everybody working in parliament, the members of the press gallery – “you guys”, “and MPs” – should details of the bedroom-olympics between the various parties become fair game in the public arena. I checked the ‘accurate, fair and balanced’ treatment of that statement from a single news outlet.? ?

From Stuff: Oct 18th
“I’m comfortable with what I have with my wife – if the way in which we’re about to play politics, when a political party and the leader is under pressure,?if they want to start lifting the bedsheets on everyone that works in that building, you guys and MPs, then I think there’ll be a lot of people concerned?- even those that are throwing allegations now.”

Oct 19th: Stuff’s Henry Cooke has Ross saying he “cautioned?MPs against “lifting the bedsheets”. The statement wasn’t limited to MP’s, but: fair enough.

Oct 19th: The same day Cooke has Ross saying they “changed the rules by?lifting the bedsheets on him so much?that he wouldn’t be able to fight a by-election in Botany.” Hmmm, he didn’t say that, but he alluded to it, kinda, so: fair enough.

Oct 20th: Tracey Watkins claims Ross “threatened to lift the bedsheets on others.” I’m not sure that’s accurate, or a reflection of Ross’s original statement.

By Oct 25th: Opinionator Glen McConnell has carried out, simultaneously, both an accurobotomy and balancectomy on the original statement when he says of the National party, “I can’t think of any reason why we should trust?a group of people who repeatedly use “between the bedsheets” in conversation, as a threat.” Crikey; a single instance has become ‘repeatedly’, ‘lifting the bedsheets’ has become ‘between the bedsheets’, a press conference has become a ‘conversation’ and a caution has become ‘a threat’.

That’s what ‘responsible’ comment is, people. That’s what ‘accuracy, fairness and balance’ looks like. As for those bloggers though: don’t trust ’em, they just make stuff up.

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