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Herald censors criticism


Green Media Release

7th December 2007

Herald censors criticism

The New Zealand Herald has censored parts of a 200 word article that the Greens were asked to submit on campaign finance reform for yesterday's edition. They deleted the opening paragraph that was critical of the Herald's coverage of the issue, and replaced it with their own commentary at the end of the article.

The paragraph that the Herald deleted from the article without consent or consultation was:

"Help! Herald editorial misleading about Electoral Finance Bill (EFB). Won't print Green articles. Only have 200 words here, excuse grammer. See www.greens.org.nz."

The Herald then added their own commentary at the end of the article:

"Dr. Norman says the 200-word restriction limited the style of his contribution."

The article submitted was within the 200 word limit.

"The Herald claims it is defending freedom of speech in opposing campaign finance reform. Yet they censored the words from the article that were critical of the Herald. It is blatant hypocrisy," says Dr. Russel Norman, Green Co-leader and Electoral Matters Spokesperson.

"As the largest distribution daily paper in the country, the Herald is a corporation with enormous political power. But with power comes responsibility. The Herald editors might have thought it was amusing to delete my opening paragraph and add their derisory sentence at the end of the article, but it is censorship and it is a misuse of power.

"I defend the right of the Herald editors to take a stance opposing campaign finance reform. However, I expect them to defend my right to be critical of their position and their coverage. They should be ashamed for censoring my words.

"Campaign finance reform is essential to stop politicians being owned by corporations and wealthy individuals as they are in the US. If we don't want 'the best democracy money can buy' then we need to close the loopholes. We need campaign finance reform."

(The full 200 word article is attached. In the interests of free speech please circulate it.)

We need campaign finance reform

Dr. Russel Norman, Green Co-leader

Help! Herald editorial misleading about Electoral Finance Bill (EFB). Won’t print Green articles. Only have 200 words here, excuse grammer. See www.greens.org.nz.

EFB does not stop anyone saying anything anytime. EFB places no restrictions on press. EFB places no restrictions on paid issue advertising.

EFB only caps advertising spending if trying to persuade people to vote for or against a party – cap at $120,000. Repeat, EFB only caps electioneering spending. EFB caps party advertising spending at $2.4m.
National responsible for EFB. National evaded party spending cap by using Exclusive Brethren for parallel ‘vote National’ anti-Green campaign. Showed loophole in existing law.

If don’t close loophole, parallel groups can spend unlimited millions in ‘party vote’ campaigning. Result - politicians owned by those who funded their campaign, not by voters. That’s why need cap on election spending by parties and other groups. See USA for evidence – best elections money can buy.

Human Rights Commission agreed with Greens’ changes to protect freedom of speech.

Rallies against EFB organised by Business Roundtable member. BRT members made secret donations to National via secret trusts. See ‘Hollow Men’ by Nicky Hager.

National opposed Green idea of citizens’ assembly to decide campaign finance rules.

Don’t be duped.

ENDS

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