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Media disappointed by Select Committee decision

7 April 2006

Media disappointed by Select Committee decision

Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Select Committee have failed to take an opportunity to lift the fog of secrecy over the reporting of suicide by retaining outmoded clauses in the new Corners Bill, according to New Zealand’s Media Freedom Committee.

The Committee’s report on the bill was tabled in the House this week and the MFC is hoping that Parliament as a whole will show greater courage and bring it up to date allowing greater transparency in the reporting of suicide, says MFC Chairman Tim Pankhurst, editor of the Dominion Post.

“ It is disappointing that the politicians on the committee have clearly given scant regard to the considered submissions of New Zealand's Media Freedom Committee, the Press Council and individual editors calling for greater transparency in tackling the scourge of suicide.

“Given New Zealand's appallingly high suicide rates, among the highest in the developed world, it is difficult to see how the current regime, now extended, that restricts reporting of self-inflicted death and its causes, is effective.

We are hoping that at the next reading of the Bill in the house, more enlightened politicians will persuade the house that the Committee has got this issue wrong and make the necessary changes.”

Media are prevented from reporting a death as a suicide, being restricted to using such terms as “there were no suspicious circumstances”.

All mainstream Print and Broadcasting media are represented on the Media Freedom Committee


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