by Roger Childs

The Dominion Post encourages readers to send letters to the editor, but is very selective in what it prints. Some readers will have seen the article in the Friday 29 April editions where senior staffer John Hartevelt argued, against all evidence, that the paper’s journalism was independent and that there was no interference in the content or viewpoints.  He also commended Stuff’s “Whole Truth” series.

This is my letter to the editor about the article which was not published.

John Hartevelt tried hard to convince readers that Stuff’s reporting is “independent”. (Dom Post April 29). However, he seemed to protest too much in claiming that, although the organization does receive funding from the Public Interest Journalism Fund, “ … there is no interference from anyone at NZ on Air or otherwise in relation to this (social media on medical myths) or any other editorial work we do.” But he was obviously uncertain as to whether he had convinced readers in saying “ … if you don’t believe any of that …”

The PIJF requires recipients to “  … provide accurate, accountable and fair coverage … upholding the public’s right to know”. But a key Fund goal is inaccurate in stating that media should “Actively promote the principles of Partnership, Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi acknowledging Māori as a Te Tiriti partner.” Unfortunately the 1840 Treaty makes no reference to principles or partnership – the latter being constitutionally impossible. The Crown cannot legally enter into a partnership with a particular group of its citizens.

Stuff, while claiming to provide The Whole Truth on issues of the day, has not provided “fair coverage” on such topics as whether humans are responsible for climate change; the disadvantages of poisoning the land with 1080 for over 60 years; the downside of electric vehicles; the government’s policies which promote Maori power and wealth; matauranga and the nature of science; the lack of balance in the new history curriculum.

The organisation is doing the reading public a disservice in not providing balanced coverage on many issues so that people can make up their own minds on such matters.