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Maori and media should sort out problems

Maori and media should sort out problems, says journos’ union

The union that represents journalists is concerned that some of its members will be prevented from doing their jobs as well as they might on Waitangi Day.

The EPMU, which represents journalists in newspapers, radio and television, says that it understands the frustration and concern that has led elders of the Te Tii marae at Waitangi to ban all journalists from the mainstream media from Waitangi Day commemorations today and tomorrow.

However, banning reporters from doing their jobs is not the way to handle the problem, says EPMU national secretary Andrew Little.

“The freedom of journalists to cover the news is fundamental to democracy and society,”
he said.

“We understand that the elders of the marae – and Maori in general – have some legitimate concerns about the way in which the media makes judgments about what is news and what is not, but reacting by banning on-the-ground reporters will not solve the problem.”

Mr Little suggested that elders take a more long-term approach by working with the media.

“Go and see the heads of the media outlets and spell out exactly what the problems are,” he said.

“If the elders feel that news decisions are biased towards confrontation and controversy, go and see the people who make those decisions and challenge them. Develop a long-term, pro-active media plan, but put it in place now for next year,” Mr Little said.

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