AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Freedom of information is in the spotlight in the latest issue of the Auckland University of Technology’s journalism newspaper, Te Waha Nui.
The front page addresses problems with the Official Information Act (OIA), and the stonewalling by New Zealand’s Defence Force in one particular journalist’s case.
Editor and postgraduate student Matthew Hutching’s editorial commented on the future of journalism and student’ experiences with the OIA.
“Over the two semesters we’d made requests under the Official Information Act and we had been stonewalled several times and we complained several times to the Ombudsman and nothing had happened,” he said.
“We’ve had to deal with local government like the Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, particular council-controlled organisations like that and we’ve found that it’s quite difficult to get information.”
It’s not just students dealing with this. One of three cases mentioned in Hutching’s editorial is the case of New Zealand investigative journalist and war correspondent Jon Stephenson, who won a four-year defamation case with the Defence Force this year after being accused of lying in his articles published in the Sunday Star-Times and Metro magazine.
The current issue also features a range of Pacific stories.
Student editors Michael Neilson and Mata Lauano chose pieces from AUT’s Asia-Pacific Journalism course.
"We definitely wanted a range of stories,” said Neilson.
“That reflects what everyone in the class was doing. Everyone was doing a range of stories, and also I think we chose the West Papua one because we are journalism students and it was a big deal.”.
Lauano enjoyed the task of giving importance to Pacific viewpoints.
“The last issue didn’t have as many Pacific stories as our issue did, and I think that’s a reflection of the conscious effort to put in more Pacific stories, which is important because we’re in the Pacific capital of the world, Auckland.”
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