Farrar first blogger covered by regulator


Chris Keall

The crash test dummy

David Farrar has become the first blogger approved to be covered by the Online Media Standards Authority (OMSA). 

"I’m pleased that Kiwiblog has been accepted for membership of OMSA and looking forward to being the first blog in New Zealand to sign up to the same code of ethics as the media, and an independent complaints process from the first of October," the right wing blogger told NBR ONLINE this afternoon.

On a sidenote, Farrar and Hager exchanged a couple of sharp comments during an NBR AMA earlier this week.

That was disappointing. I think Dirty Politics makes some important points about shabby behaviour by the PM's office, and others. But I thought ragging on David was a bit of-the-top, and a distraction. Hager has bigger fish to fry, and I had been hoping he'd take the opportunity to admit he'd been wrong on a couple of points of fact, and give Kiwiblog a nod for moving to become more transparent. But it was not to be.

Farrar makes changes to Kiwiblog, applies to be 'test dummy' for new regulator

Aug 20: 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."


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