All entries for Thursday 16 February 2006

February 16, 2006

Freedom of Speech for Media Societies

From Kat Stark's Presidential Manifesto, 2005:

University is a place where students should be free to express their beliefs and should be talking about difficult issues. I will be actively encouraging students to express their own beliefs and hear others (sic) beliefs with respect and sensitivity

Well said.

But in reality, has Kat implemented this? Or did she reject a policy to prevent the Boar from commenting on referenda? Or did she change the current Union policies which state that – effectively – the media societies can't broadcast or print opinions about referendums or elections, for fear that 'debate' might bias the elections?

Sadly not.

This is why I've submitted a referendum (which is likely to get 'hacked' to pieces tomorrow) which would allow media societies to speak freely about such referenda and elections – so long as coverage of each society is, in the whole, unbiased.

Unlike the Union's current rules, there is some thinking behind this. Notably, OFCOM's regulations, which state exactly this method of ensuring bias doesn't occur. And considering RaW is capable of adhering to OFCOM's regulations about everything else, why not this? And why just RaW? Why can't WTV and the Boar have a proper debate rather than have to tip-toe around while the Union North people have a feeble debate which consists solely of "official" arguments?

My feeling from Union North is that they're against this motion. But why? Surely a healthy democracy requires debate about the issues (as Kat herself advocates above), not just two 'official arguments' which leave no room for a middle ground.

On the abortion issue, for instance, wasn't there a middle-ground somewhere out there? Did it get expressed during the last referenda period? No. Because that would break the rules.

And I'm not advocating RaW or the Boar taking a 'view' – they'd simply be allowed to facilitate arguments between people with differing opinions. They'd still have to be 'unbiased' as a whole.

For instance, you couldn't say in the Boar: "Don't Vote Duggan". You'd have to have someone say why you should vote for him, and someone say – equally forcefully – why you shouldn't. Just like in the 'real' world.

And if RaW, WTV and the Boar slip up, they should be punished. Just like now. But give them a chance, rather than strangling their coverage of important issues. You never know, it might just improve participation and turnout. Assuming that's what Union North wants.

Kat Stark's Presidential Campaign Slogan, 2005:

No Empty Promises

I trust Kat'll be voting in favour of the motion then.


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