Media agreement on coverage of Tarrant trial

David posted this comment:

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/05/01/self-censorship-media-new-zealand-white-supremacist-2019-226766

Kiwiblog also covers this. Its an outrage that the press has self censored itself as a collective with the government complicit.

“The Kiwi editors don’t appear to trust their readers and viewers to handle the difficult and disturbing material that’s sure to billow out of the Tarrant trial. They regard New Zealanders as children who must be sheltered from the heinous and despicable lest they become tainted with its influence.”

Its worth reading the story from an outsiders point and shines a light on the paternalistic overview that our “betters” in the media exhibit. I would like to see full coverage without sensationalizing the bits that irresponsible media usually do, I want the different perspectives of a varied and uncensored free press usually give. And its appalling that the government and the press think that if we hear what this loon says we will see it as a call to arms. Bloody ridiculous.


Here are the “agreed editorial guidelines” – Reporting the Trial of Brenton Tarrant

MEDIA STATEMENT – NZ MEDIA FREEDOM COMMITTEE
REPORTING THE TRIAL OF BRENTON TARRANT
[1 May 2019]

Senior editors of the major accredited news media companies in New Zealand (TVNZ, Stuff, Mediaworks, NZME and RNZ) have committed to a united approach in reporting the trial of Brenton Tarrant following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, 15 March, 2019. The group of editors, representing the New Zealand Media Freedom Committee, has agreed a set of protocols to ensure that the outlets they represent cover the upcoming trial comprehensively and responsibly.

A group statement and a copy of the agreed editorial guidelines is attached for your information.

Requests for further information or comment should be directed to the respective media organisations.

MEDIA STATEMENT – NZ MEDIA FREEDOM COMMITTEE

REPORTING THE TRIAL OF BRENTON TARRANT 

We are the senior editors representing the major accredited news media companies in New Zealand (TVNZ, Stuff, Mediaworks, NZME and RNZ).

As a group and as individual editors we are committed to ensuring the outlets we represent cover the upcoming trial of Brenton Tarrant comprehensively and responsibly.

We have agreed to abide by these guidelines throughout the trial.

BACKGROUND 
Brenton Harrison Tarrant is charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 charges of attempted murder relating to shootings carried out at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, 15 March, 2019.

Victims of the terror attack include citizens of twelve different countries.

We represent accredited New Zealand media organisations that plan to attend the trial and associated proceedings for the purposes of reportage.

As editors we are mindful of the public interest in the trial, in New Zealand and internationally.

We are also mindful of our role as the “eyes and ears of the public” in the context of court reporting. In this instance, we acknowledge the particular importance of this function, given the many victims’ friends and families outside New Zealand who may otherwise be unable to engage in the trial process.

We are aware that the accused may attempt to use the trial as a platform to amplify white supremacist and/or terrorist views or ideology.

GUIDELINES
We agree that the following Protocol will apply to our outlets’ coverage and reportage of the trial:

(a) We shall, to the extent that is compatible with the principles of open justice, limit any coverage of statements, that actively champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology.
(b) For the avoidance of doubt the commitment set out at (a) shall include the accused’s manifesto document “The Great Replacement”.
(c) We will not broadcast or report on any message, imagery, symbols or signals (including hand signals) made by the accused or his associates promoting or supporting white supremacist ideology.
(d) Where the inclusion of such signals in any images is unavoidable, the relevant parts of the image shall be pixellated.
(e) To the greatest extent possible, the journalists that are selected by each of the outlets to cover the trial will be experienced personnel.
(f) These guidelines may be varied at any time, subject to a variation signed by all parties.
(g) This Protocol shall continue in force indefinitely.

SIGNED:
Miriyana Alexander (NZME and chair of the Media Freedom Committee)
John Gillespie (TVNZ)
Shayne Currie (NZME)
Mark Stevens (Stuff)
Paul Thompson (RNZ)
Hal Crawford (Mediaworks)


This is an unusual approach for what is an extraordinary situation.

Media always make judgements about what court cases they will report on and what they will report. What is different here is agreement between all the major media organisations.

Thins could change if circumstances change – “These guidelines may be varied at any time, subject to a variation signed by all parties.”

Changes to moderation of website comments

Moderation of comments is an ongoing challenge on any online forum.

Facebook have just announced they are clamping down on ‘hate speech’ and the promotion of racism and white supremacy.

I posted recently about Stuff imposes extensive commenting restrictions.

Yesterday Whale Oil posted about this – Stuff follows Whaleoil’s lead but then takes it one step too far – claimed credit for being a leader in moderation.

Whaleoil five years or so ago broke new ground when we committed to a comprehensive moderation system to make our commenting section a respectful and pleasant place in which to debate ideas.

Pleasant for those left allowed to comment, although posts and comments still attacked people through derogatory and insulting images and name calling.

And that post is heavy on hypocrisy and light on admitting their own heavy handed censorship on some topics, but I don’;t want to get into that here.

Kiwiblog has long been labelled a cesspit due to fairly unfettered commenting policies. David Farrar initiated changes after the Christchurch attacks, has just announced more detail on major changes.

New proposed moderation policy

Commenting on Kiwiblog is a privilege not a right. The privilege will be removed for repeated unacceptable comments.

Unacceptable comments include but are not limited to:

Defamation

Do not make comments that could expose Kiwiblog or yourself to defamation.

Trolling

Trolling is an attempt to deliberately disrupt a conversation by being grossly offensive or massively off topic.

Comments on a post should be a response to the topic of the post. While some thread drift is inevitable, do not try to divert the thread into another topic. Use the daily General Debate for other topics.

There are several equivalents herfe for general topics:

  • World view – for international news and topics of interest
  • Open Forum – to discuss anything of interest
  • Social chat – for general social chat, not for debate
  • Media watch – links to things of interest on media issues or mostly New Zealand news

I allow a lot of flexibility on what is talked about where, except for Social Chat.

Personal Abuse

Attack arguments, not people. It will generally be unacceptable to call someone a moron, but it will be acceptable to say their argument is moronic. That may seem a fine distinction, but an important one. However don’t try and push the distinction to breaking point. If you say that someone’s argument has the integrity of a syphilitic pygmy (for example), then that would find you with a warning or strike.

Abusive nicknames for MPs such as “Ardern the liar”, “Golly G”, “Simple Simon” will be unacceptable. You can critique something they have said or done, but not just repeat an abusive nickname.

That sort of name calling is still prevalent at Whale Oil. It has long been unacceptable here.

Gratitious references to attributes people have no control over

People can’t choose their gender, race, skin colour or sexual orientation. There will be times when those attributes about a public figure can be a legitimate discuss in in relation to an political event.

But slagging off someone on the basis of something they can’t control is unacceptable.

Generalisations

Grossly offensive generalisations are not acceptable either. Treat people as individuals. This is not to say one can’t discuss group characteristics (such as why certain races are over-represented in crime statistics), but it should be done in a way which is not derogatory of the entire group.

Lumping 1.5 billion Muslims all in together is almost certainly going to be unacceptable. One can criticize a religion and/or specific acts or teachings. But don’t attribute things to every follower of a religion. Be as specific as you can. If there was an attack by Islamic extremists, say “Islamic extremists” instead of “Muslims”.

The same applies here to political lumping such as ‘the left’ or ‘the right’.

Language

There is some tolerance for swearing so long as it is not directed at someone. Calling someone a c**t is almost never acceptable, but the use of the word in other contexts may be. Telling someone to f**k off is not acceptable.

Personal Details

Give other commenters the courtesy of referring to them by the name or alias they use on this blog. Do not reveal personal details about them such as their name, address, phone number etc. unless it is somehow connected to a public issue. If in doubt, check.

It’s good to see DPF finally taking control of comments at Kiwiblog.

I agree with all of these policies, they are similar to what I have used here – I see them more as guidelines than rules , but I put a big emphasis on decent comment and respect of others while allowing for robust debate and some jocularity.

You get better debate without abuse and without general or targeted attacks – especially when arguments are backed with facts and sound reasoning.

There’s been a lot of moaning at Kiwiblog about the change. Like:

Shut the hell up you Fascist!

Bye bye

But this is what fernglaas said:

You’ll get less commenters, but the quality of them will be vastly improved. The anonymity of the internet gives freedom of expression to many but also provides a platform for cowards, bullies and those who prefer prejudice to facts. I wish you the best in trying to balance the objectives you have set out. I don’t envy you.

Moderation is difficult, but I wish DPF the best with his latest changes.

Stuff imposes extensive commenting restrictions

Yesterday Stuff announced new terms and conditions for commenting on their website, which puts a lot of restrictions on types of comments and topics that be commented on. This is a flow on effect of  Christchurch Mosque attacks.

Immediately after the attacks David Farrar caused a lot of angst at Kiwiblog by imposing significant commenting restrictions, with anyone not identifying by their real name being put on auto-moderation (each of their comments needs to be approved by a moderator). There is still a lot of grizzling about it. From the last General Debate: (Monday, for some reason there wasn’t one yesterday):

DigNap15:

DF needs to change the name of this blog to
The sickly white liberal apologists blog.

Classical Liberal:

The moderation system is completely unfair to long term, reasonable KB supporters. I have always defended equal rights before the law for men, women, homosexuals, all ethnic groups.

But several of my perfectly reasonable comments are sitting here for hours.

I hope it’s just because it’s a slow Monday, not because the moderators have become immoderate!

Stuff updated yesterday – Terms and Conditions: User submitted content and comments

We (Stuff Limited) invite our readers (you) to post comments and profile information in a number of areas of the website.

The views expressed in the comments areas are not our views or opinions, nor the views or opinions of any of our staff or our related entities. We accept no liability in respect of any material posted in the comments areas, nor are we responsible for the content and accuracy of that material.

If you place reliance on material posted on this website you do so at your own risk, and you indemnify us (and our related entities) from any liabilities, claims, costs, loss (including consequential loss) or damage suffered or caused by reason of your reliance on any material posted in the comments areas.

Comment policy

Stuff welcomes comments from readers on our website.

We invite you to discuss issues and share your views. We encourage robust debate and criticism provided it is civil. But our comment section is a moderated online discussion, not a public forum.

We reserve the right to reject comments, images or links that:

  • are offensive or obscene;
  • contain objectionable or profane language – including use of symbols (we maintain a list of banned obscenities and comments featuring those words will be automatically rejected);
  • include personal attacks of any kind (including name-calling; insults; mocking the subjects of stories or other readers; or abusing Stuff journalists or contributors);
  • are discriminatory or express prejudice on the basis of race, ethnicity, country of origin, gender, sexuality, religion, or disability;
  • contain spam or include links to other sites;
  • are clearly off topic;
  • are deliberate lies or attempts to mislead. While we cannot review all comments for accuracy, we reserve the right to reject comments we consider, on the balance of probabilities, to be deliberate falsehoods;
  • impersonate an individual or organisation, are fraudulent, defamatory of any person, threatening or invasive of another’s privacy or otherwise illegal;
  • are trolling or threatening;
  • advocate or endorse violence, vigilantism or law breaking;
  • infringe on copyrights or trademarks;
  • are self-promoting;
  • violate the law or breach court-ordered suppressions or have the potential to breach future suppressions; or
  • constitute a contempt of court or that contain details of cases and individuals before the courts;
  • violate our terms and conditions for user generated content;
  • promote, advertise or solicit the sale of any goods or services;
  • nitpick other commenters’ spelling or grammar;
  • deny anthropogenic climate change;
  • deny the Holocaust;
  • add nothing to the debate;
  • just generally aren’t very nice.

That covers just about anything stuff decide they don’t want to publish – which is their their right on their website.

Those conditions are quite similar to what Whale Oil has operated under for several years.

Usernames are also bound by these Terms and Conditions and offensive usernames will be blocked. Using your real name is preferred best practice.

We reserve the right to cut, crop, edit or refuse to publish your content. We may remove your content from use at any time.

With rare exceptions, we will not usually enable comments on stories concerning:

  • 1080
  • allegations of criminality or misconduct
  • animal cruelty
  • beneficiaries
  • Christchurch mosque shootings of March 2019
  • court cases
  • domestic violence
  • fluoride
  • funerals
  • immigrants or refugees
  • Israel and Palestine
  • Kashmir
  • missing people
  • race
  • sexual orientation
  • suicide
  • Treaty of Waitangi
  • transgender issues
  • vaccination
  • vulnerable children

That’s a lot of topics deemed out of bounds for commenters.

They say they typically have several thousand comments a day submitted, so it’s a big workload monitoring them all.

Restricted or selective commenting is becoming more common.

Perhaps a reality is that media sites are not suited to open slather comments. Not only are they difficult to manage, they distract from their core purpose, to report news and to provide commentary.

Any site has the right to allow or not allow public comments.

Stuff: Our rights

We retain the right and discretion (but not the obligation) to edit, delete, reject or remove any comment which you post or seek to post in the comments or Stuff Nation areas.

As does any website owner or manager.

Kiwiblog Comments Policy:

Who has the right to post comments on this blog?

Apart from me, no-one at all has the right to post comments. Posting is a privilege, not a right.

Okay, so who is allowed to post comments here?

Anyone at all, up until the stage I ask them to stop or suspend them

There are plenty of other places that people can comment online, so it’s not really a restriction on free speech – before the Internet there was far less freedom to speak via newspapers, radio  and television.

Online discussion and debate will no doubt continue to evolve.

Stuff sale and NZME paywall

Stuff has an article on it’s own pending sale, and also has a look at NZME’s proposed NZ Herald paywall in Stuff faces possible break-up as NZME readies its wall

Australian media company Nine hopes to have the sale of Stuff Ltd pretty much wrapped up by the end of June.

Nine is expected to put out an “information memorandum” on the business in a few weeks that should give potential buyers and tyre-kickers a clear picture of the business.

Nine’s clear preference is for a clean sale and a quick exit from the New Zealand market.

But a key question is whether Stuff might be worth less as an integrated business than the sum of its parts.

If it is, then Nine could be forced get its hands dirty to extract full value from the divestment, or alternatively it could sell Stuff to a private equity buyer that would then break it up.

Stuff has already sold or closed quite a bit of regional media.

On the NZME paywall:

NZME has reportedly been researching a $3 to $7 weekly fee for access to some “premium” content on its NZ Herald website.

That would be $156 to $364 per year! How many people would be prepared to pay that?

In August, chief executive Michael Boggs forecast NZME might convert 4 to 6 per cent of its online audience – which is shy of 2 million – into paying customers.

He based that on what he said was the benchmark in Australia, where paywalls have been around longer and encompass a wider range of content.

However, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism in the United States estimates the top 10 per cent of paywalled publications only succeed in persuading 1.3 per cent of readers who hit the stop sign on a paywall to then pay up.

Companies may be prepared to pay several hundred dollar subscriptions, but I doubt there would be many individuals who would.

Whoever takes over Stuff will have an obvious interest in the NZME paywall plans. If it flops Stuff will be even more wary of trying similar – in fact if NZME loses readers by paywalling ‘premium’ content then Stuff would have an opportunity to pick them up. But that will depend on what happens in the attempt to sell off Stuff.

 

Stuff 2019 political predictions

Stuff has made their 2019 Political predictions: Big calls for the year ahead – some are on things that they can’t be predicting based on knowledge so are little more than lame guesses – like whether someone will have a baby or not. But some are presumably based on political intuition.

2. National MPs will lose their nerve partway through the year after the party’s poll ratings start to slide. And they will install Judith Collins as leader on a promise to destabilise Jacinda Ardern’s leadership.

National’s polls slid last year (thanks to Jami-lee Ross) but recovered quickly. What could cause them to dive and stay down? Labour doing much better perhaps, and actually making some bold changes that will benefit middle New Zealand other than parents with dependent kids.

This prediction looks to be a stab.

Would Judith Collins make any difference? She would be a bigger risk – she has some appeal and also a lack of wide support. Whether she would appeal broadly enough is hard to tell – actually, i think impossible to tell in advance. Any leadership change is a major punt.

3. The Euthanasia Bill will pass with NZ First’s support but its implementation will be subject to the country supporting it in a referendum.

As it should be. If NZ First don’t support it going to a referendum it would be a major betrayal of one of their core policies – to let people decide on social issues via referendum.

4. Ardern will have a cabinet reshuffle and promotions will include emerging star Kris Faafoi, plus the surprise return of veteran MP Ruth Dyson to address the lack of senior women cabinet ministers. Rookie MP Deborah Russell will make the biggest jump from the back bench.

I don’t know about Dyson, but Faafoi deserves a promotion, and Russell is a good prospect, but it may be a bit soon for her.

I think that Clare Curran returning to Cabinet is too big a risk, she looked out of her depth. Meka Whatiri is female and Maori so could be given another chance.

5. NZ First’s Shane Jones will spend increasing amounts of time (and money) in Northland, in preparation to be lined up to contest the Northland seat with the understanding that if he wins he will be the successor to Winston Peters.

That looks to be how things are intended to happen.

Would Jones retain support for NZ First if Peters retires? Provincial voters will like all the hand outs, but they may not be so keen on am over-eloquent self promoter.  But we won’t find this out until 2020.

6. The bullying inquiry led by Debbie Francis will find a widespread culture of bullying in Parliament and the Beehive, heralding a long overdue beef up of protections for ministerial and parliamentary staff.

There does seem to be resolve in Parliament to address bullying behaviour.

9. The fallout from the Karel Sroubek deportation scandal will continue into the new year.

Does the media know more than  has been made public so far?

11. National will trigger the waka jumping bill to remove Jami-Lee Ross from Parliament after he becomes a thorn in their side following his return to Parliament.

I think it’s hard to know how Jami-lee Ross will conduct himself if he returns to Parliament. His support looks certain to remain negligible.

12. The Government is going to park their promise of abortion reform for fear of alienating its conservative South Auckland Pasifika vote.

That would be a real shame. Gutlessness or political self-preservation? Maybe both, if that’s what happens.

13. A majority of the tax working group will recommend some kind of extension of a capital gains tax, with a series of exemptions and carve outs. But the campaign against the tax will grow until Labour abandons meaningful tax reform.

It could be argued that Labour’s limits on CGT and other tax changes has already ensured that meaningful tax reform is unlikely.

15. Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson will adopt a soapbox cause that will have co-leader James Shaw scrambling to carry out damage control.

That’s what she has done in 2018, and seems unrepentant, so it’s aa good bet she will repeat – and this is likely to further damage Green Party support.

16. Despite success in their flagship Zero Carbon Bill, the Greens will round out the year in the exact same position at around six per cent popularity.

That may depend on 15. And predicting an exact poll percent seems to be a silly prediction.

17. Attempts to find friends for National will see two new parties emerge as contenders – a Vernon Tava-led environment party and a party targeting the Christian and Pasifika vote to leverage off the Christian vote mobilised by the euthanasia, cannabis and abortion reform debates.

If either or both get off the ground they are unlikely to come close to the threshold in the 2020 election – but that may not be the aim. Instead, they goal may be to split the Green vote, threatening them missing the cut, and also to take a bit of support of Labour.

If so the end goal would be a virtual single party National government. I wouldn’t be keen on that.

19. Peters will lose the legal battle over the leak of his superannuation details, claim victory, and the Government will have to pick up the tab for National MPs’ expenses.

Which way the legal battle may go is difficult to predict. Peters claiming victory is an easy pick, as is MPs expenses being paid for.

20. Teachers will call off their strikes in February but the Government will continue to be plagued by industrial action.

How that pans out will be interesting.

 

Political predictions for 2019

I don’t try to predict what will happen in politics. But Stuff and David Farrar publish their guesses for each year.

Stuff: 2019 predictions start with some sort of show, so it seems a bit flippant. Some of their other predictions:

  • Healthy food is here to stay
    (so is unhealthy food)
  • Backing the beard
    (is most notable for it’s html mistake).
  • Watching TV – real TV – will become cool again
  • #Metoo hits the hospitality industry
  • Expensive coffee will get more expensive
  • Stuff political reporter Henry Cooke predicts National leader Simon Bridges may not be in as much of a happy place by the time 2020 rolls around, but the National Party will not dip very far below 40 per cent in the polls.
  • Northland’s Whangarei will be the next underrated, affordable destination (“We all know someone who moved to Dunedin this year” – no we all don’t know).
  • Stuff predicts Jones’ eternal war with Air New Zealand will continue apace …but “he will continue to fly with them, constantly”.
    (I predict more than one Minister will be an attention seeking hypocrite)
  •  The future of our consumerism will change with the advent of getting pretty much anything you want delivered to your door.
    (except for better journalism)
  • This will be the year Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford tie the knot
    (good for them if they do but something i will avoid as much as possible)

That’s the less trite ones.

David Farrar’s Predictions for 2019 include some standard point scoring guesses, but these are more interesting:

2. ACT will change its name to the “Freedom” party.

5. The End of Life Choice Bill will pass its third reading, but be subject to a referendum

10. The Government’s projected surplus in the 2019 Budget will be less than the surplus for 2017/18

11. The Government will fail to get the numbers in the House for a comprehensive Capital Gains Tax
(Labour have already virtually ruled out a comprehensive CGT)

13. Brexit will not occur on 29 March 2019

15. Kelvin Davis will be replaced as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

16. Donald Trump will not get $5 billion for his wall so will back down on the Government shut down

19. Kris Faafoi will be promoted to Cabinet
(he should be, he is one of the Government’s most competent/promising performers).

 

 

More on Stuff’s climate change conversation control

Not surprisingly there has been a lot of discussion on Stuff’s decision to exclude climate change “scepticism” from articles and discussions. See Anti-climate change comments no longer allowed.

I linked to that post on Twitter and got this response:

In political debates ‘ignorance’ and ‘differing views’ are often confused. There seems to be increasing attempts to shut down discussion at variance to one’s political view – this is common from political activists, but when major media like Stuff do it, it becomes alarming.

A key quote from Stuff:

Mature adults can disagree about the impact of climate change and how we should react. We’ll feature a wide range of views as part of this project, but we won’t include climate change “scepticism”. Including denialism wouldn’t be “balanced”; it’d be a dangerous waste of time. The experts have debunked denialism, so now we’ll move on.

I think it is alarming that they implied that “scepticism” of an issue as reliant on science as climate change would be excluded. Scepticism is a fundamental tenet of science.

Using the term ‘denialism’ is also a concern – that is often used to dismiss any arguments that question and aspects of climate change and action to mitigate it.

It reminds me of people holding religious power condemning anyone who doesn’t by their dictates unquestioningly.

We welcome robust debate about the appropriate response to climate change, but do not intend to provide a venue for denialism or hoax advocacy. That applies equally to the stories we will publish in Quick! Save the Planet and to our moderation standards for reader comments.

Certainly “hoax advocacy” and arguments that aren’t based on facts or commonly accepted science should not be supported, but Stuff implies they are going much further than that.

Adam Smith:  Stuff admits it is a biased rag and not a newspaper

This is totally disgraceful. A newspaper now saying it will censor any views that differ from the viewpoint it chooses to advocate for.

It means that all stories in Stuff should be read as opinions not as fact. It means their journalists are advocates, not reporters.

Whilst this may well have been the case for many years, their blatant disregaard for alternative views, especially in such a public way is very concerning.

Yet Stuff  should be applauded as well for openly stating their bias, but will they clearly state that bias when publishing articles on climate issues?

Clearly, they will not publish climate sceptical articles. In that regard it could well be argued, they are failing in a publication’s duty to hold authority to account.

That was also discussed at Reddit:

Stuff has a terrible comment section which does not encourage proper discourse, does not have adequate moderation against hate speech or racism, uses a completely pointless and easily rigged voting system, and only requires an email address to post anonymously.

For a news agency these are appalling standards in my opinion. As a news agency you should be holding yourself to certain standards when it comes to reporting the news and yet those standards are completely disregarded when it comes to their social media aspect. Why? Why work so hard on reporting in a quality fashion just to have all your readers scroll down to an absolute cesspit of a message board after they read the article and risk having that as their parting impression? Why open comments to controversial subjects when you’re well aware most people are just going to announce their opinion regardless of what your article has just said? Why claim you stand up for things you care about but allow users to post vile comments? Why close comments on hugely important but non-controversial issues?

Well, we know why. You don’t actually care. You want to retain visitors as long as possible and you know that engagement is the key and you clearly don’t give a fuck how they go about it. And this stand, this stand against climate deniers, is your attempt to try and claw back some iota of self-respect.

Your peers are closing their comment sections because they know it has failed miserably.

Like countless other news outlets, NPR found itself overwhelmed by trolls, anonymous contributors who had too often hijacked comment threads with offensive and inappropriate submissions.

Wise-up, Stuff.

I linked to my pos

Stuff seem to be limiting their coverage and discussion to “the appropriate response to climate change”. What an appropriate response is should still be very much up for discussion, and that should allow for questioning the responses that some advocate – some extreme responses are advocated by some, like rapidly eliminating the use of fossil fuels and halting meat production. Counter arguments should be allowed.

Anti-climate change comments no longer allowed

Anyone arguing against climate change happening can’t comment any more – don’t worry, not here, but that seems to be what Stuff are imposing on comments there.

I think that climate change is potentially a major problem facing our planet, and facing humankind. We are having a significant impact on the planet, and most probably on the climate.

I largely disagree with those who say there is nothing to worry about. We should be concerned, and we should be doing more to reduce the human impact on the climate and on the environment.

Not all climate change effects will be negative, some areas may benefit. But overall it poses a major risk, especially considering the huge and expanding human population and the need to feed everyone.

However we should not, must not close down arguments against climate change, or for natural climate change, or against doing anything. For a start, a basic premise of science is that it be continually questioned and challenged, no matter how strong the evidence is one way or another.

And there is a lot to debate about what we should be doing in response to our impact on the planet.

So censoring one side of a debate is a major concern to me. There are whacky extremes on both sides of the arguments. Why target just one side with censorship?

From The Standard: Stuff is banning climate change deniers from articles and comments

Congratulations to Stuff.  Instead of the endless on the one hand but on the other hand reporting, where on the other hand is nothing more than incomprehensible babble from the anti science right, they have adopted this policy:

Stuff accepts the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and caused by human activity. We welcome robust debate about the appropriate response to climate change, but do not intend to provide a venue for denialism or hoax advocacy. That applies equally to the stories we will publish in Quick! Save the Planet and to our moderation standards for reader comments.

The change in policy is accompanied by the announcement of a new series of stories and opinion pieces under the title of Quick! Save the planet which is described in this way:

Quick! Save the Planet – a long-term Stuff project launching today – aims to disturb our collective complacency. With insistent, inconvenient coverage, we intend to make the realities of climate change feel tangible – and unignorable.

This project accepts a statement that shouldn’t be controversial but somehow still is: climate change is real and caused by human activity.

Mature adults can disagree about the impact of climate change and how we should react. We’ll feature a wide range of views as part of this project, but we won’t include climate change “scepticism”. Including denialism wouldn’t be “balanced”; it’d be a dangerous waste of time. The experts have debunked denialism, so now we’ll move on.

There were 268 comments to the editorial written by Editor in Chief Patrick Crewdson, mostly supportive, but a few were clearly testing the boundaries.

Well done Stuff.

It is great that the tide of opinion is flowing towards accepting climate change as a reality and working out what needs to be done.  The question will be is this too little too late.

Maybe, but it is not great to see a banning of opposing views. That is bad for debate, bad for democracy, and bad for science.

This is just one of a number of very concerning developments in trying to shut down free speech that are happening right now.

Two contrasting comments early in the Standard discussion:

Robert Guyton:

Stuff’s sidelining of deniers is bold and decisive – good on them. I made this point at our regional council meeting yesterday, with any closet deniers who might be sitting around the table, in mind. There was a squirm 🙂

Chris T:

Totally and utterly disagree.

Deniers of climate change are blind, but to censor differing views that are being put foward (that aren’t breaking swearing rules etc), no matter how stupid they are, or no matter how they may differ from yours, on topics that are as contentious as this, is ridiculous.

There is another argument currently about whether media should provide ‘balance’ by giving a voice to whacky extremes, or at least whether they should provide a forum for minority views with significant slants – Bob McCoskrie comes to mind.

Media articles should be balanced towards factual and scientifically backed information. They shouldn’t give anyone a voice who wants to spout nonsense, or extreme views. Media can choose what they publish.

But when they start to censor comments – free speech – I think they are getting into worrying territory.

Chris T: Is there a master list of topics people aren’t allowed to disagree with or do we just make it up as we go along?

mickysavage: Claiming that climate science is a Soros funded attempt at world government would be a start, saying that scientists are engaged in scare mongering for money is another and claiming that ice cover is actually increasing and that temperature increases have stalled for years is a third topic.

Wayne: Your list, especially the last two, looks indistinguishable from censorship.

Banning arguments against “ice cover is actually increasing” is a particular worry.

Ice cover actually increases every winter. Obviously it decreases in summer. It always varies with seasons. Most science generally suggests that ice cover is decreasing overall, but even with climate change (warming) it can increase in some areas.

What are Kiwi values?

When NZ First said they were considering a bill requiring immigrants to comply with undefined ‘Kiwi values’ it raised the obvious question – what are Kiwi values?  We are a diverse bunch.

AMP/Stuff are doing a survey to try to find out what values matter to us.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE KIWI: New Zealanders loved Kiwiana and it helped define us on the world stage. Tell us what you think are the values, old and new, that define 21st Century New Zealand, in the AMP/Stuff Survey of Values.

I encourage everyone to contribute to this survey.

It would also be good to discuss some of this here.

Which values do you MOST STRONGLY associate with Kiwis / New Zealanders today?

PRAGMATISM – Down to earth and practical, we get things done

PUNCHING ABOVE – We love an underdog, we back the little guy

WORK LIFE BALANCE – Enjoying the 40-hour work week and good quality family time

SPORTING EXCELLENCE – passionate players, coaches, supporters and fans

TEAM SPIRIT – Working together to solve problems / win

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY – Equality for everyone in health, education, housing, social status etc

CELEBRATE DIVERSITY – Of other cultures, life choices, religions

OUTWARD LOOKING – Embracing the world beyond our shores

ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT – Courageous, give things a go, we have a sense of adventure

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT – Looking after and enjoying our natural environment

MODESTY – Not blowing our own trumpet

SAFETY & SECURITY – Safe from crime, corruption, nuclear war

COMMUNITY SPIRIT – Looking after one another and helping one another

KINDNESS – Being kind to one another, supporting and forgiving

INCLUSIVENESS – Accepting and respecting one another

INDIVIDUAL CHOICE – Challenging, making our voice heard

INNOVATION – Number 8 wire mentality, thinking differently and creatively

NONE OF THESE

Any others?

What about sense of humour?

We are really good promoting how modest we are and how we don’t blow our own trumpets.


Update: I am just doing the survey and I am very disappointed in this:

Which ETHNICITY do you most associate with?
NZ European
Maori
Pacific Islander
Chinese
Indian
Other Asian
Other European
Other Ethnicity

In a survey in Kiwi values the ethnicity that I value is not an option! I had to put ‘other ethnicity’ as the least inappropriate.

Odd Stuff on MP ‘best before date’

It is not new asking whether MP terms should be limited. What is new is some confusing stuff on it from Stuff. They have two different links to the same story, with different headlines and different text.Once at the link both these stories have the same headline, but the URLs show the link headlines. And there are some text differences.

  • Stamp MPs with a best-before date
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/107912277/andrea-vance-mps-should-carry-useby-dates

    Is it time to stamp a best before date on our MPs?

    Simon Bridges brutally retired some of his long-serving MPs in an indelicate, secretly recorded, conversation with Jami-Lee Ross.

    Once people become members of that exclusive club – being a politician – they are reluctant to give it up.

    Of our current current crop, 16 have been hanging around Parliament for more than a decade, including leaders Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges. Six have been drawing an MPs salary, on and off, since the 1990s. Winston Peters claims the record – first elected in 1978.

    Ross himself has been an MP for more than seven years. He won’t be remembered for any exceptional achievements in office.

    Time-servers risk staying in office long past their prime. The more comfortable they become in their Beehive offices, with staff, perks and tax-payer funded travel – the more distant they become from those they represent.

    They come bursting into Parliament with big ideas and naive ideology but are eventually worn down by the grind and disappointment of real politik. Most get jaded, cynical, and too involved in playing the game.

    Ross’ spectacular self-immolation stems from his disappointment in not making it far enough up the greasy pole

    Far too much time spent in the capital’s cafes and bars makes MPs weak to the corruptive influence of lobbyists and special interests. They become beholden to the type of politics that’s leaving voters frustrated and disillusioned.

    Term limits would allow MPs to spend less time worrying about re-election or scrabbling up the caucus ranks. More policy-making, less plotting. They’d be able to take unpalatable but necessary decisions without fear of being punished in the polling booths.

    New blood is a good thing, especially for party leaders. The ranks are automatically refreshed with new talent, free from factional alliances, and all without rancour and sulking.

    There would be no need to carry incompetent MPs or prise them out of safe-seat with other career inducements. Those past their prime would be saved the indignity of being “retired” by the party.

    Politics would no longer be seen as a comfy job-for-life, rather a short spell in public service.

    But draining the swamp does come with many problems. There’s a lot to be said for experience. Navigating the labyrinth of Parliament’s procedures and rules takes time. Crafting legislation and regulations that solve complex problems with no unintended consequences is a skill learned on the job.

    Swapping out acumen for inexperienced lawmakers might not best serve the public.

    Voter choice is also restricted when a candidate is barred from being on the ballot.

    It’s also not easy to step away from Parliament – the loss of position, status, and perks is painful and usually involuntary.

    Elections should be the best mechanism for dumping ineffective MPs from office. However, a shallow talent pool makes it easier for parties to offer up incumbents and retreads instead of searching out new candidates.

    So, if not a use-by date, perhaps our system needs a sell-by date. If you buy that product,it’s safe. But it serves as a warning to retailers: time to get it off the shelves.

  • Stamp MPs with a best-before date
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/107785506/stamp-mps-with-a-bestbefore-date

    Is it time to stamp a best before date on our MPs?

    Once politicians become members of that exclusive Wellington club, they are reluctant to give it up.

    Of our current current crop, 16 have been hanging around Parliament for more than a decade, including leaders Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges. Six have been drawing an MP’s salary, on and off, since the 1990s. Winston Peters claims the record – first elected in 1978.

    Time-servers risk staying in office long past their prime. The more comfortable they become in their Beehive offices, with staff, perks and tax-payer funded travel – the more distant they become from those they represent.

    They come bursting into Parliament with big ideas and naive ideology, but are eventually worn down by the grind and disappointment of real politics. Most get jaded, cynical, and too involved in playing the game.

    Far too much time spent in Wellington’s cafes and bars makes MPs weak to the corruptive influence of lobbyists and special interests. They become beholden to the type of politics that’s leaving voters frustrated and disillusioned.

    Term limits would allow MPs to spend less time worrying about re-election or scrabbling up the caucus ranks. More policy-making, less plotting. They’d be able to take unpalatable but necessary decisions without fear of being punished in the polling booths.

    New blood is a good thing, especially for party leaders. The ranks are automatically refreshed with new talent, free from factional alliances, and all without rancour and sulking.

    There would be no need to carry incompetent MPs or prise them out of safe-seat with other career inducements. Those past their prime would be saved the indignity of being ‘retired’ by the party.

    Politics would no longer be seen as a comfy job-for-life, rather a short spell in public service.

    But draining the swamp does come with many problems. There’s a lot to be said for experience. Navigating the labyrinth of Parliament’s procedures and rules takes time. Crafting legislation and regulations that solve complex problems with no unintended consequences is a skill learned on the job.

    Swapping out acumen for inexperienced lawmakers might not best serve the public.

    Voter choice is also restricted when a candidate is barred from being on the ballot.

    It’s also not easy to step away from Parliament – the loss of position, status, and perks is painful and usually involuntary.

    Elections should be the best mechanism for dumping ineffective MPs from office. However, a shallow talent pool makes it easier for parties to offer up incumbents and retreads instead of searching out new candidates.

    So, if not a use-by date, perhaps our system needs a sell-by date. If you buy that product, it’s safe. But it serves as a warning to retailers: time to get it off the shelves.

Either the top article had text added, or the bottom article had text removed.

In any case “Simon Bridges brutally retired some of his long-serving MPs in an indelicate, secretly recorded” is inaccurate. Both David Carter and Chris Finlayson are not “reluctant to give it up”, they have both confirmed that they intend leaving Parliament (Carter at the end of this term, Finlayson by the end of this year).

John Key was not reluctant to give it up, neither were MPs like Simon Power and Stephen Joyce.

Of course some are, like Jami-Lee Ross, but he is hardly a good example. Vance says “Ross himself has been an MP for more than seven years. He won’t be remembered for any exceptional achievements in office.”

MPs are past their ‘best-before’ after only seven years? Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and in fact the whole Labour front bench if not Labour Caucus have been in Parliament longer than seven years.

One of Labour’s better performing Ministers is David Parker, and he’s been in Parliament since 2002, which is 16 years.

The deputy Prime Minister is the longest serving MP in Parliament. Without him NZ First would almost certainly not be there.

Winston Peters’ best before date is probably 1 January 2000.

But he has right to continue on in Parliament as long as enough voters keep deciding he should remain. And voters should continue to make these decisions.

Should political journalists have ‘best before’ dates?