So that you can have confidence in Pundit's commitment to accuracy, fairness and integrity, we've joined the New Zealand Press Council and will now we held accountable by an independent body
You might have noticed in recent days the logo of the New Zealand Press Council has appeared on our homepage. That's because our concerns about the quality of political and current affairs debate online have led us to joining the council.
In fact, apart from a small local site on the Coromandel, we are the first website to be accepted.
At the end of October last year the Council announced it would be accepting digital media as members. Its press release said:
Council executive committee chair Rick Neville said the council and its stakeholders had taken this step in recognition of the significant expansion and diversification of media platforms in New Zealand.
Requests will be considered by the executive committee which will assess applicants’ ability to meet membership criteria including those relating to accuracy, fairness, balance, independence and integrity.
So we applied to become an associate member of the council and in February were accepted "with great pleasure".
The Press Council is trying to expand the ethical standards demanded of the print media into the bloggersphere and, given some of the issues that Nicky Hager revealed in Dirty Politics last year – and in the subsequent news coverage – we think that can only be a good thing.
The Council's Executive Director Mary Major put it well:
Why join the Press Council? Well I guess the main reason is that it tells your readers that you adhere to ethical standards for the work posted, and that you are prepared to accept the scrutiny of an independent body. It also allows you recognition of the Court in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act see s198 and s210 in the attached excerpt. As a regulator our process is cheap, quick and non-legal.
This is how the Council describes that process:
"The key point is that any prospective complainant must take the complaint to you, in writing, in the first instance so that you have the opportunity to resolve the issue. In practice most complaints are resolved at this level... [but] the Press Council operates rather as an appeal body for those complaints that haven't been able to be resolved.
Hopefully, other blogs will consider following suit.
We have very few complaints at the moment in large part because of the tone we've set on the site (and work hard to maintain) and the decency and integrity of those who write for and read Pundit. But if you have any issues, you now have an appeal process beyond Andrew, Eleanor and me.
As always, thanks for clicking your way here and contributing to the discussion.