Ken got in touch with me again recently. Here’s what he has to say.
Thank you for providing an informative blog site which covers a number of interesting local issues.
I have been wondering in recent weeks exactly how one expresses an opinion in public on this island on matters of public interest. You wrote a blog in February Muddy Waters 4. It mentioned I wrote two letters to the editor of ‘The Gulf News’ on the Cell-phone Tower issue. Neither letter saw the light of day, nor did the editor see fit to publish any extract of the international and WHO reviews of recent findings on the safety of cell-phone towers.
Five years ago The Gulf News was virulent on this issue with front page coverage and a free hand to correspondents proclaiming widespread cancer would result from installing a small 1.8m telephonic Surfdale aerial. My simple request in January was for an updated review to be carried out now. This seems to have been ignored. I suspect this may well be because of personal views and affiliations of 5 years ago, that are still functioning, rather than the importance of this issue to the general public.
There is also the question of accuracy in initial reporting. A doctor was roped into articles and letters to add an authoritative air. Other ‘specialists’ were cited. Meanwhile suggestions I made for the publication of official studies were ignored.
Recent evidence would seem to confirm that there is ‘no confirmed relationship’ between cancer and cell-phone towers. So all the original hysteria published by The Gulf News (and The Marketplace for that matter) may have been without any reputable validation. In view of the damage done to reputations at the time, including mine, I find this all very disappointing.
The media and reporters on this island should be more professional and do better. In particular, personal opinions should never overwhelm the key roles of a reporter or editor which is to be informative, accurate and show minimal bias. If an article is biased then make that perfectly clear.
Finally by missing an opportunity to bring its readership up-to-date now on the latest international conclusions on cell-phone tower safety, The Gulf News appears to be continuing a policy of preference. That is, report, in the main, items suitably matched to personal beliefs and relationships.
Once a paper gets into bed with politicians its credibility is compromised and its decline assured. This is reflected already in the falling page count. It is a mere shadow of its former self. Competition, first from the Waiheke Marketplace, now from the immediacy of the online world, continues to eat away at market share. I expect there will soon be a merger with its sister paper, the ‘Weekender’, which at least attracts some advertising dollars.
Once a gulf opens wide enough for there to be a credibility gap there's no more integrity in its news.