Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Salient gives up on impartiality

One of the many flawed reasons used to justify compulsory membership is that compulsory funds subsidise student media. Student politicians tell us student media is important because it's an independent voice on campus which holds institutions and student associations to account. Students need an independent student media, we're told, so they know what's really going on.

Well, that's what we're told.

In recent days Salient, the magazine owned by the Victoria University Students Association, has killed the myth of independent student media stone dead.

The Vuwsa executive want to increase the compulsory Vuwsa levy. Has Salient taken an independent stance on this, weighing up the pros and cons and treating both sides evenly? Has it hell.

Salient editor James Robinson has been outspoken in his support of an increase of the levy. Salient is owned by Vuwsa and would be a possible beneficiary of any fee increase. Robinson has a vested interest in seeing the fee go up. At the SGM he spoke in favour of a fee increase and has also shown himself to be a less-than-impartial supporter of Vuwsa and compulsory membership saying:

  • A rise in the levy is the best way to preserve VUWSA at its current level.
  • In my heart of hearts I can’t help but implore you to vote for an increase in the levy.
  • You...think you are being ripped off and your money misspent. But that’s just not true.
  • You get so much more used (sic) out of a levy than you actually think.
  • VSM, will lead to higher student fees.
Now you could argue that an editor has as much right to freedom of speech of the next guy. Notwithstanding the complications of compulsory membership, I'd be willing to accept that but Robinson and news editor Nicola Keen have taken their support for a fee increase to another level.

They've used their positions within the magazine to launch personal attacks on students who've spoken out against the fee increase. This has a purpose. If you want to shut down your opponents one tactic is to ridicule them in print or online. This sends a clear signal to other students: don't oppose us or you'll end up being ridiculed by Salient. An old Chinese proverb says "kill one, frighten ten thousand." Robinson and Keen have adapted this rule to "ridicule one, silence ten thousand."

Again it all comes back to compulsory membership. The students targeted by Robinson and Keen have been forced to pay money to an organisation which claims to represent them. Some of that money has been given to Salient which then launches personal attacks on the same students. The students singled out by Salient are effectively being forced to fund an attempt to humiliate them in public.

Vuwsa's constitution says its primary goal is "promoting the interests" and "representing the views" of students. How does the forced funding of journalists who decide they want to ridicule you fit with the reason Vuwsa supposedly exists - that is to promote the interests of students and represent their views?

And given Robinson's and Keen's obvious bias against voluntary membership, students should be aware that Salient is totally incapable of providing fair and impartial coverage of the compulsory membership issue.

Again it all comes back to money and compulsory supporters' determination to keep the cash rolling in.

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At Tue Sep 12, 07:56:00 PM 2006, Blogger Nicholas O'Kane said...

Look at what Salient has said about me for opposing the levy increase:
"got all demagogic and outraged about the proposed levy hike."
"But here’s some advice to O’Kane et al: take a look at the bigger picture. Take off the blue tinted glasses and think practically about the issue. And seriously, jumping up and down, squealing and clapping your hands like a six year old girl who just got a pony for Christmas isn’t a good look. Grow the fuck up." on http://www.salient.org.nz/blog/because-i-spend-too-much-time-reading-kiwiblog
"O’Kane’s bleating is hard to take on a hangover."
"I felt that a lot of people are being tremendously short sighted in their arguments."-describung all those who oppose the levy increase
"When Nick O’Kane stands up and cries out corruption because in 2005, money was spent on photographs and honoraria and that this is corruption, is bollocks" on http://www.salient.org.nz/blog/nicholas-okane-on-a-hangover
"VUWSA Constitution enthusiast Nicholas O’Kane was also against the motion, giving an impassioned speech, during which he shouted “(Vice- Chancellor) Pat Walsh would be proud of you, Nick Kelly!” in http://www.salient.org.nz/news/money-for-nothing-%e2%80%93-dorks-for-free

"I was confused by the Student Choice statistics. They seemingly threw numbers around out of context, and, even though not directly affiliated with the group, Nicholas O’Kane (by far the ringleader of the “Tormentors”) was most guilty of this. His reaction to the motion not passing in one of the climactic scenes was especially disturbing. Jumping up and down and yelling out “yay” with his arms waved in the air, his armpit stains fully visible on his 1983 Warehouse issue grey shirt, it was a perplexing moment. And a level of awkward campness not brought to G rated entertainment since the Teletubbies." on http://www.salient.org.nz/columns/editorial/masterpiece-theatre
I let you decide if this an atempt to ridicule me. look at the links and you casn see clearly which position they taske on the levy increase.


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