NEW ZEALAND: New Media Rule Sparks Controversy

E.J. DE LARA WRITES – Imagine giving popular blog sites such as Perez Hilton and Just Jared the same legitimacy as newspapers. The New Zealand Press Council, the self-regulatory body that resolves complaints involving the press, has made this idea a reality by announcing its decision to allow digital media, namely blogs, membership to the council.

While this move gives digital media outlets legitimacy and access to the council’s benefits, these sites must abide by the council’s rules are subject to complaints. According to John Drinnan, a reporter from the New Zealand Herald, the change will be very useful for this year’s elections because it will hopefully decrease the use of dirty politics.

In the past, political parties have used blogs to report disparaging news about their competition. But, bloggers, such as Peter Aranyi of the popular site blog site Kiwiblogthink the addition of digital media to the council will diminish the raw, candid nature of blogs. Though the New Zealand Press council claims it’s paving the way for more legitimacy, is it actually taking away the integrity and blunt truths found in blog stories?

The decision will not be in effect until May, but many government sectors, namely the Law Commission, approve of the council’s decision, as it makes all forms of media officially subject to the same rules and regulations. With this new rule, critics wonder whether digital media sites will accept membership into the council at the expense of their unfiltered news coverage.

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