Two more OMSA complaints dismissed

April 15th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

OMSA has dismissed two complaints against Whale Oil by a Joshua James.

What is interesting is the complainant lied over the details of his complaint, and when asked by a Whale Oil staff member for details of what comments he was upset by, refused to tell him. Instead he complained to OMSA (again refusing to give details).

What this means is this left activist is trying to use the OMSA complaints process to damage a blog he doesn’t like. It had nothing to do with the substance – just an attempt at censorship.

It’s activist like Mr James that makes bloggers cautious of joining a complaints body. The concern that people will try and use it against you as a weapon. This may be why only three blogs have joined so far – Kiwiblog and Whale Oil for OMSA and Pundit for The Press Council.

One solution I’d propose is limiting the number of complaints an individual can make in a year.

Radio NZ pinged by OMSA

March 24th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Businesses’ responsibility to moderate comments on their social media pages has again come into sharp view, with an Online Media Standards Authority (OMSA) ruling against Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

Offensive statements about Prime Minister John Key and his late mother were posted on a video on RNZ’s Checkpoint with John Campbell Facebook page, attracting several OMSA complaints.

One complainant, M Lubbock, said the comments went “far beyond any legitimate criticism of John Key and into territory inciting his murder and comments about wishing his mother had died in the gas chamber.”

The comments were incredibly vile. And they were up for several days.

Multiple complainants expressed concern about their “seriously offensive” nature, as well as the time it took for them to be deleted. They provided links to WhaleOil and KiwiBlog posts outlining the threatening comments, which OMSA accepted as evidence.

The value of screenshots!

They were posted between Friday, February 19 and Sunday, February 21, with the bulk being made over the weekend. RNZ’s community engagement editor removed all offensive posts on Sunday afternoon and raised the page’s profanity filter to block out any further comments containing expletives.

In multiple responses to the complaints, RNZ repeatedly told OMSA it took down the comments as soon as it saw them appear. However, OMSA ruled RNZ should have instructed staff to actively monitor the page from Friday, when it first became aware of any offensive comments.

If they were aware of them on Friday, that is when they should have taken them down.

I don’t think publishers should be liable for comments that they have not seen. But an organisation with $35 million in taxpayer funding should be more pro-active in checking than Radio NZ was.

The OMSA ruling is here. Some extracts:

The Publisher removed several offensive comments on Friday, 19 February. However, further comments were made on Saturday and Sunday. RNZ said once they were made aware of the new comments they were removed, several people were banned from the Facebook page and some comments were reported to Facebook. RNZ also confirmed that as a result of comments made on Saturday, 20 February and Sunday, 21 February, it raised the Facebook “profanity filter” to help in automatically moderating the user generated content.

Some of the worst comments were made on Friday or even Thursday. They were obviously not removed.  And you would thin that if they had seen where it was heading on Friday, they would have kept an eye on it.

This was not one or two inappropriate comments. Over 100 comments (out of 400) had to be removed. It was basically an antire page dominated by vile threats and hatred.

However, taking into account the extreme nature of the user generated content, the Committee found the steps taken by RNZ were not sufficiently timely. It held that RNZ must have been alerted by the tenor of comments posted on Friday, 19 February and, therefore, should have alerted staff to actively monitor the page from that time.


Whale Oil wins OMSA appeal

March 21st, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged previously on how Whale Oil won the first ever OMSA decision against a blog.

The complainant appealed the decision and the Appeal Committee has ruled, upholding the original decision.

Good to see self-regulation working well.

OMSA rules in favour of blogger

December 16th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Online Media Standards Authority has just delivered its first ruling on a complaint against a blog (Whale Oil) that is a member and has not upheld the complaint.

The complaint was about this story on Whale Oil, regarding the New Zealand Network Charity.

The finding of the OMSA Complaints Panel was:

The Content subject to complaint appeared on the Whale Oil Beef Hooked website and was titled “Special Investigation: Charity Begins at Home.” It focused on the registered charity, The New Zealand Network Charity, and included a sound recording of a conversation between the Complainant, founder Angela Sothern and Editor Cameron Slater.

The Complainant raised concerns about the accuracy of the article and the content of the recording and said the Publisher was rude and disrespectful and it was irresponsible “to not have ensured the things he was accusing me [of] were correct, founded and evidenced”.

The Complaints Committee found the information presented was an accurate reflection of the recording and included links to other sources. The Complaints Committee accepted the Publisher had made reasonable efforts to ensure that news and current affairs content was accurate and did not mislead in relation to all material points of fact.

The Committee noted the Complainant had approached the Publisher to promote her charity and it considered the recorded discussion was robust questioning from a journalistic standpoint. The Committee concluded that taking into account the context and public interest in the subject, the Publisher had dealt with the Complainant fairly. It noted recording interviews was common and acceptable practice in the media industry.

Taking into account the article was not presented in a way that it would cause panic, unwarranted alarm or undue stress, the Committee ruled the article observed the requirements of Standard 5 Responsible Content and was not in breach of Standards 1, 3 and 5 or Guideline 3(a) of the OMSA Code of Standards and ruled the complaint was Not Upheld.

I doubt even the harshest critic of Cameron will find fault with this ruling, if they read his story and the full decision. I think he raised very legitimate concerns over the charity.

Editorial Policy

October 1st, 2014 at 11:05 am by David Farrar

Kiwiblog is a personal blog, primarily reflecting my views.

However in recognition of the fact that it is now widely read and has some influence on the public discourse, Kiwiblog has been a member of the Online Media Standards Authority since 1 October 2014. I try and follow the OMSA Code of Standards for Online News and Current Affairs Content.

This editorial policy is how I interpret the Code of Standards as appropriate for a blog.


Kiwiblog will never publish anything the author knows to be untrue. If it does publish anything that is non-trivially factually inaccurate, it will correct it as soon as possible. The correction will generally be by way of strike-through on the incorrect text and bold on the new text so the changes are explicit. Alternatively updates may be done to a post, at the bottom of it.

Occasionally a post may be rewritten to reflect new information, when it is not desirable to keep the inaccurate original information in the post. However all versions of a post are archived.

Kiwiblog does not have the resources to double source all information it receives. It will sometimes publish information it receives from readers, if it deems the source credible.


Kiwiblog primarily reflects the views of its editor, David Farrar. However Kiwiblog is designed for debate and a balance of views can be achieved by contrary views being published in the comments section.

Kiwiblog is also generally amenable to running guest posts or a right of reply on a topic, even when those views do not reflect the editor’s.

However Kiwiblog will primarily be publishing stories that reflect the views of the editor on issues, and this will be the dominant view.

Kiwiblog also links to a number of other blogs, which promote a variety of different views on different issues. Kiwiblog believes that readers best achieve balance by reading different views on different sites, rather than one overall “balanced” view on all sites.


Kiwiblog will link to quoted material (if available online), so that readers can easily follow through to see extracted material in its full context.

Kiwiblog generally allows a right of reply, both in comments or as a guest post – subject to overall editorial quality control.


Kiwiblog has an internal privacy policy here. Kiwiblog asserts that as it makes observations on news, or current affairs, for the purposes of dissemination to the public or any section of the public, it is a news medium undertaking news activity and hence not an agency for the purposes of the Privacy Act.

In terms of publishing details of individuals, Kiwiblog will balance up the public interest against an individual’s desire for privacy. Whether such details are already in the public domain will be a key consideration.

Responsible Content

Kiwiblog will not glamorise criminal activity (especially hacking!).

It will not give detailed descriptions about a method of suicide. However it may report a suspected suicide as a suspected suicide, when it is obvious this has occurred, and it is important to the story.

Advertisements either clearly appear as graphical or text advertisements, in dedicated advertising spaces – or if in the main section of the blog, will be tagged with paid advertisement. Kiwiblog and its editor receive no payments for content, except advertising.

Children and Young People

Kiwiblog will generally not report on children or young people (under 18) unless it is for positive achievements, or they are taking part in newsworthy activities.

Comment and Fact

A blog is a mixture of news reporting and opinion. Blog readers understand this. It will generally be clear by use of quotes and extracts what is news, and what is opinion. Most posts are reflecting the opinion of the author, but some will be reporting original news.

Comments are also made by some blog readers. These are not moderated in advance by the editor and do not reflect the opinion of anyone but the person making them, and should not be seen as news. A comments policy applies to these.

Complaints against comments should be made to

Headlines and Captions

The headlines on Kiwiblog are designed to either explain the substance of a story or make readers curious as to what a story is so they will read it.

Discrimination and Diversity

Kiwiblog agrees with the Press Council that issues of gender, religion, minority groups, sexual orientation, age, race, colour or physical or mental disability are legitimate subjects for discussion. Any coverage of these issues is based on public interest and is not gratuitous.

The one exception is comments on gingas. But a defence of humour is argued for these posts.


Kiwiblog receives significant amounts of (generally unsolicited) information from sources. It will not name or reveal the sources, unless they agree. The exception will be if knowingly false information is provided.

Kiwiblog receives many unsolicited contributions from readers. Sometimes these will be quoted in a blog post. If the reader works for a political party, parliamentary party or an MP, then they will be described as such when quoting them. However their name will not be used.


Kiwiblog does not use subterfuge or deceit to gain information.

Conflicts of Interests

Potential conflicts are disclosed here. Kiwiblog does not accept money for posts, unless they are marked as a paid advertisement. Posts reflect the views of the author.

Photographs and Graphics

Photographs are not digitally retouched by Kiwiblog, unless for humourous purposes in which case it will be apparent.


See Accuracy


All posts made by David Farrar are my own work. I may sometimes seek information from various sources, but I always write my posts myself, and in my own words. I will quote words written by others, not use it as my own.

I have a few guest authors, with direct posting privileges. The guest author will either use their own name, a pseudonym which is publicly known to be them, or disclose any relevant political affiliations if not doing either of the first two.

I will sometimes publish comments or e-mails by readers as guest posts, or quote their e-mail in a post. They will not be named unless they wish to be, but if they work for a political party that will be identified.


If a reader wishes to complain about a post, or seek an amendment, they should contact the editor at If it is urgent you can text or call to his mobile phone. Note that Kiwiblog does not have fulltime staff, and the timeliness of a response can be affected by the work demand or travel of the editor.

Kiwiblog is happy to correct posts that are inaccurate or breach the editorial policy or OMSA Code of Standards.

If you feel a blog post was unbalanced, then feel free to submit a guest post as a right of reply. Most guest post requests are accepted.

You can also use the comments facility to argue against the main post.

If you are unhappy with our response to your complaint, you can also complain to OMSA using their complaints form. I strongly encourage you to complain first to myself, and only going to OMSA if unhappy with my response. But you do have the right to complain directly.


A new media regulatory body

February 19th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The broadcasters have announced:

Broadcasting Industry to Launch Online News And Current Affairs Self Regulatory Body

New Zealand’s major radio and television broadcasters today confirmed the launch of a new industry funded, self-regulatory body, the Online Media Standards Authority “OMSA”, which will oversee online news and current affairs content standards.

Since the Law Commission’s paper, The News Media meets ‘New Media’ was published in December 2011, NZ television broadcasters TVNZ, SKY/Prime, MediaWorks TV, and Maori Television have worked together with Radio New Zealand, The Radio Network and MediaWorks Radio to provide an industry led, cost effective and consumer friendly solution to regulate online news and current affairs content. OMSA will publish a code of standards and provide a free complaints process overseen by the OMSA Complaints Committee.

The OMSA Complaints Committee will be chaired by retired Court of Appeal Judge, Sir Bruce Robertson and including the Chair; will comprise four public members and three broadcasting industry representatives.

The new body will use a similar format to that used by the Advertising Standards Authority and the NZ Press Council, as they are excellent examples of industry funded, self- regulatory regimes working effectively. OMSA acknowledges the advice and guidance that was provided by both organizations. OMSA Chair, Clare Bradley, said

“OMSA enjoys the total support of New Zealand broadcasters and the OMSA code and complaints process will apply to the websites operated by all OMSA members. The Authority has its genesis in the report of the Law Commission which identified a regulatory “gap” in the oversight of news and current affairs content solely published on line. We are delighted to be able to provide the solution to the Law Commission’s “gap”.

This does help plug a gap. Currently broadcaster’s websites are not covered by any code or body. Print media websites are covered by the Press Council.

It’s a step in the right direction, but a poor substitute to what we should have – which is a converged standards regulator for all media – totally independent of Government.

What is no clear is what the membership eligibility for OMSA will be, and associated fees. Should online publishers who wish to be seen as media join OMSA or the Press Council? Will the fees be affordable for non-commercial entities.