Friday, 12 July 2013

The Daily Examiner newspaper creates sensible rule for public political debate in its letters section

In an election year letters to the editor tend to become quite partisan and pointed as the formal campaign period approaches.

Here on the NSW North Coast members of political parties more often than not have been allowed to push their party’s line without their affiliations being identified.

The most notable recent example were letters to the editor from member of The Greens and the current Secretary of the National Party’s Yamba Branch.

The thrust of both these letters followed party lines, with the former addressing single parent welfare payments and the latter commenting on public debt by way of an anonymous online IOU Australia “debt clock” of dubious repute which Whois states is registered to Masina Pty Ltd/Winning Post Productions.

Now I'm sure there are card carrying Liberal and Labor party members also writing letters in support of their respective party campaign platforms, however I as yet cannot identify them - and this lack of transparency is the point. 

Ordinary voters should have all available information in order to decide just how much weight they give to published opinion in an election year, when letters to the editor are often seen as a dirt cheap form of political advertising in support of local candidates.

The Daily Examiner has recognized this issue and on 11 July 2013 published this note:

Ed's note
With the election looming and things become quite well, political, The Daily Examiner asks anyone who is a member of a political party to declare their affiliations in their letters in the interests of being fair to readers. 
Anyone found not complying will not be published again until after the election.

This editorial position deserves a bouquet and hopefully other North Coast newspapers will follow suit. 

No comments: