Farrar makes changes to Kiwiblog, applies to be 'test dummy' for new regulator
Centre-right commentator David Farrar says he's thought about walking away from Kiwiblog over the past week.
He does not believe Dirty Politics shows him acting in any way inappropriately. But nevertheless it's been traumatic to have his emails floating around, and for he and his office to be regarded as "fair game."
He's decided to stick with it.
But he is cleaning house, introducing new rules around disclosing sources of information, and applying to join a new(ish) media regulator and abide by its code of conduct.
"I’ve been talking to the OMSA and Press Council for over a year about joining, so the book is not the cause, but is a bit of a catalyst. I’ve long wanted to see if the self-regulatory model can be extended to blogs," Mr Farrar told NBR Online this morning.
"The other changes at Kiwiblog are more just about greater clarity."
The OMSA (Online Media Standards Authority) as set up as a self-regulatory authority set up by TVNZ, MediaWorks, Sky TV, Maori TV and Radio NZ after Justice Minister Judith Collins rejected a Law Commission recommendation for a single regulator to cover online and offline media (online media being unregulated at the time. Broadcast media is covered by the Broadcast Standards Authority and print media by the Press Council). It setup shop in June last year.
As with the BSA and Press Council, it's not a legal process, but complainants can win retractions and apologies.
For a blogger, that could be a humbling experience, but it's also a cheaper and more straightforward one than a complainant taking them to court.
The trade-off for enjoying the OMSA's protection is that members have to abide by its Code of Standards, which include respecting privacy (so no blabbing whistleblower's names slipped to you by a cabinet minister), not causing undue distress, putting stories in context, and showing balance on controversial issues (not something various blogs on the left or the right are particularly known for; Mr Farrar at least has always been upfront about where he stands).
"I regard myself as a bit of a test dummy, to see how it goes. I expect other bloggers might follow but they may want to wait and see how it goes with me," the Kiwiblog founder says.
Would he cousel Cameron Slater to follow his lead?
Mr Farrar says his changes are not intended as a blueprint for anyone else, "as I think each blog has its own style and the good thing about the blogosphere is the diversity it has on offer."