Comment: New Zealand needs to build trust by merging public television and radio into a not-for-profit entity

Second, there must be a clearer commitment to information integrity, beyond existing standards of reliability, accuracy, completeness, balance and fairness of information. Recognizing the threat of misinformation and disinformation, and developing ways to counter it, should be central to the new entity’s remit. In its current form, the bill is only one part of four considerations related to one of many “objectives”.

And third, the law must recognize the independence of journalists and the need to protect them. It is anomalous that a bill to protect journalists’ sources was introduced in parliament (although later withdrawn), when journalists themselves do not enjoy similar protections.

The new public media entity could lead the way in lobbying on behalf of all journalists to ensure that these protections, and the tools journalists need to be an effective fourth estate, are in line with international best practices.

If the law in its final form reflects these fundamental principles, it will go a long way to allaying legitimate concerns about the future independence and integrity of public media in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Alexander Gillespie and Claire Breen are both professors of law at the University of Waikato. This comment first appearance in The Conversation.

Valerie J. Wallis