Tuesday, 14 February 2012

shoddy reporting

i meant to do an update to my previous post last night but just didn't have the energy. first this statement was put out by the office of ethnic affairs yesterday:


You are probably aware that the Office of Ethnic Affair's (OEA) Briefing for Incoming Minister was on the front page of the Sunday Star Times yesterday. The article gave the perception that the Office is advocating for a multicultural policy and that such a policy should set up a different rights under law for ethnic communities.

The report is not accurate.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs is part of the Public Service and does not advocate for any specific policy.

Our role is to advise Government about ethnic diversity in New Zealand and to offer neutral advice. One of the ways we do this is by having strong connections with ethnic communities so that we know what issues are being discussed.

The issue of multiculturalism is a common topic. There have been articles on whether New Zealand should have a multicultural policy such as that which has been established in Canada and Australia for many years. The issue has been raised publicly by a number of people and organisations in New Zealand over the past few years.

One of the strongest proponents is the moderate New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils (NZFMC), which has been advocating for such a policy since at least 2008, in 2009 and more recently in 2011. NZFMC is one of New Zealand’s oldest ethnic associations and is the largest pan-ethnic association with around 20 councils in New Zealand.

The United Future Party has been advocating for a multicultural policy since at least 2008 and it remains one of its policies.

Debate on the issue has also taken place in academic journals, newspapers and in blogs.

Examples include an article by Stephen May at Waikato University who wrote “Accommodating multiculturalism and biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand: Implications for language education” in 2002. Another example can be found here.

Blogs have included comments from David Farrar on Kiwiblog, who discusses international trends, as well as New Zealand sourced articles.

As New Zealand becomes more diverse this type of debate will become more common. We encourage people or communities who have issues they wish to raise with the government to do so through established channels such as making submissions to Select Committees.

Our role in the OEA includes encouraging ethnic people to participate in all aspects of public life equally alongside other New Zealanders. This year the Constitutional Review will be seeking feedback from the public about the shape of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. We are working with ethnic people to ensure they are aware they can participate in the process. It is during this process that ideas about multiculturalism may be raised.

We work with ethnic communities to help the Government be responsive to the issues of ethnic people in New Zealand and in this way help the Government meet the needs of all New Zealanders.

Mervin Singham
Director, Office of Ethnic Affairs

now i don't have much to quibble with there, other than the descriptor "moderate" in front of the nz federation of multicultural councils. i can't understand the need for that descriptor, because it tends to imply that other organisations aren't so moderate. and also the promotion of kiwiblog just annoys me as a leftie, though it may be an underhanded way of saying "see, even right-wingers have been talking about this stuff".

the piece in the waikato times yesterday talked about "the promotion of strictly halal tourism", which is a load of nonsense. the briefing doesn't use those words at all, no-one is suggesting that all of nz tourism move to a halal model. the office was merely pointing out that this was a business opportunity that some tourism operators might want to consider. here is a link to the actual briefing paper.

all in all, the media reporting of this has been horrendous. following on from the reporting of the young pakistani woman who was forced into marriage, which i covered at the hand mirror. the dom post has apparently printed an apology regarding that piece, which is not online so i haven't seen it. i'd really like to see it, because i'd like to know exactly what they are apologising for: the reporting of the facts which they got wrong or the reporting of comments from others which they misrepresented.

another thing the media have gotten wrong is about the switching of religious holidays, for those from minority religious groups. the EMA were busy saying this was a terrible idea, without realising that the provision was passed into law in 2010. employees and employers can negotiate to have religious holidays switched so that there is no need for the employees to use up annual leave to celebrate their holy days. but which media outlet has reported that? none that i've heard.

all in all, it's been a shoddy performance by nz media this week. and it's a performance that will have consequences for a community that is ill-equipped to counter all of this nonsense in the public arena. those who make the mistakes are not the ones who are going to face the consequences in terms of increased hostility from the wider community. and because they don't have to face the consequences, they will happily go about dishing out more of the same.

[ETA: i now have a copy of the dom post apology, thanx to deborah, and it reads as follows:

On January 30 we ran a story about a 17-year old Pakistani woman who claimed she had been forced into marriage and held hostage by her ex-husband and his family in Newtown, Wellington.

The story relied on a detailed account from the woman herself that was supported by ethnic women's support organisation Shakti. We subsequently received information, visual evidence and other material from the ex-husband and his family, which casts doubt over the woman's allegations.

The Dominion Post acknowledges that some basic principles of reporting were not adhered to and it retracts the woman's allegations.

The Dominion Post apologises to the ex-husband and his family for any embarassment and humiliation the story may have caused them.

so, i wonder if the herald and other papers who carried the story are also going to apologise.]

1 comment:

Acid Queen said...

I've always disliked the holiday swapping. Why should a Muslim have to give upo the right to celebrate ANZAC day or Christmas to celebrate their own holy days? It's not like Muslims aren't patriotic Kiwis or cannot celebrate Christmas!