New Zealand has increased its international ranking for media freedom, a result that School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing lecturer Dr Cathy Strong describes as “good news” though she still urges vigilance.
The annual ranking by international journalists organisation Reporters Without Borders showed New Zealand improved its listing five places from 13th to eighth highest of countries with governments allowing media to work independently.
The fundamental role of the news media is simply to report fair and balanced information to citizens. In doing so the news media acts as a ‘watchdog’ or power check, protecting the rights and interests of citizens. While factors such as entertainment undeniably hold some importance to the news media, it is the watchdog function of the news media that is fundamental to the workings of a democracy.
MEDIA FREEDOM – ideally anyone should be free to say anything at any time in the media with no restrictions. Our laws have evolved with a number of restrictions, protections and means of addressing things like slander, including restrictions regarding elections. There’s reasonable grounds for most of this but all can be misusued, as they are.