Show us the full horror of war in Ukraine

Atrocities and total war are not pixilated or sanitised. They bring death with unimaginable brutality and obliterate lives with indifference. It is time to stop protecting the New Zealand public from these grim realities of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Our news media post warnings about disturbing images and then obscure them out of a long-held regard for the sensibilities of readers and viewers over portrayal of death. We see shapeless body bags while those lying in the street are given a dignified digital shroud.

Yes, we read and hear descriptions of what the innocent citizens of Ukraine have had to endure at the hands of Russian invaders. However, we are shielded from most graphic detail of what is being done in a mission to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” a democratic nation that posed no defence threat to its neighbour.

How often do we see and hear the phrase “Warning: The following item includes disturbing images including dead bodies” when, in fact, we are left to imagine what the body looks like under its obscuring mantle? Continue reading “Show us the full horror of war in Ukraine”

Low trust in media has underlying cause

Trust me, I think I know when I’m wrong.

For a very long time I have advocated quality journalism as the antidote to declining trust in news media. Three reports last week convince me that doing a better job is not the cure I thought it would be.

Of course, better reporting and analysis will always contribute to improving the regard with which journalists are held by the public. And it can always be done better.

However, a new survey by the Journalism Media and Democracy ((JMaD) centre at AUT and the latest Acumen Edelman Trust Barometer on New Zealand, together with further analysis by the Reuters Institute’s Trust in News project, have led me to conclude that journalism is not the cause of diminished trust but a victim of a deeper malaise. Continue reading “Low trust in media has underlying cause”

Carefully chosen front page obscenity

On Saturday, the opening sentence of the lead story in the Dominion Post Weekend contained an obscenity referring to female genitals. Not an abbreviation, not an acronym, but the full word spelt out.

I was shocked. And that was exactly the reaction editor Anna Fifield hoped to achieve with her courageous decision to demonstrate the full impact that an avalanche of online abuse is having on New Zealand women.

If I was shocked, imagine how female MPs and councillors feel when they open their email inbox or social media accounts and are confronted by obscenities, personal abuse and threats. Continue reading “Carefully chosen front page obscenity”

Old white man guilty on three of four counts

I have been accused of being a “bullying, old, white man”. I emphatically deny the first but plead guilty to the remaining three charges as the truth stares back at me from the mirror.

The charges were laid when I called for less rigid interpretation of the rules I had helped to write for a social media page. No, you didn’t misread that: I called for a relaxation of moderation, not a tightening.

The accusation of bullying therefore left me confused but then a light went on in my head.

Of course! Bullying is when you say something with which someone else disagrees. Continue reading “Old white man guilty on three of four counts”