The new normal
Almost four months on from the attack, business continues for media organisations, but there have been some permanent changes.
Stuff has stopped advertising its website and its news products on Facebook while it assesses its position.
Boucher says following Christchurch a lot of attention was on Facebook livestream but that wasn’t the only thing about Facebook that was concerning.
“There’s so much evidence through the US election, Brexit, Cambridge Analytica, fake news...you have to challenge your own relationship with those organisations and that’s something we’re definitely doing right now and at the very least we don’t want to be funding it.”
Stuff has also permanently pulled gun advertising and a review of comments also took place.
“All of our comments are moderated by humans and we have a strict set of guidelines. [In December 2016] we launched a new project called the ‘civil society’ which also raised the bar for our comments significantly,” Boucher says.
“After the attack, we reviewed our standards again and we also tightened up the application existing policy – we made it very clear the bar has to be set very high.”
MediaWorks’ chief revenue officer Glen Kyne says while things have largely returned to normal on the advertising front, these events provide learning opportunities and templates for best practice going forward.
“Following the events, we reviewed our actions and processes to identify what we might do differently if this situation were to occur again, and largely found that we responded as best we could and as fast as we could. This was due to a huge effort from our teams who play a key role behind the scenes.”
Kyne says as far as brand safety goes, this has been a permanent conversation at MediaWorks for some time now, pre-dating Christchurch.
“We are always looking at our content decisions and associated advertising decisions and believe we have an obligation to viewers, listeners and advertisers to provide them with brand safety.”
While brand safety is not a new idea for traditional media, NZME chief commercial officer Matt Headland says there’s no doubt Facebook and other digital media platforms needed to step up in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack.
“I can only hope that the Christchurch Call delivers on the accord that was signed. It’s a great start...it’s an unprecedented agreement to make the internet safer, but it won’t be easy. The agreement is not enforceable and has no penalties.
“We will have to keep an eye on this, and our editorial teams will continue to report on the Call’s promise to ensure they are not just empty statements.”
In May, local media agreed to strict reporting protocols for the alleged gunman’s trial. A statement was signed by Media Freedom Committee chair Miriyana Alexander (NZME), John Gillespie (TVNZ), Shayne Currie (NZME), Mark Stevens (Stuff ), Paul Thompson (RNZ) and Hal Crawford (MediaWorks) regarding the coverage and reportage of the trial.
A unified approach by New Zealand’s biggest newsrooms will help [the group] inform the audience of the progress of the trial, Crawford says, while avoiding providing a platform for hateful ideology.
“In publicly agreeing to an approach that is reasonable, we avoid a plethora of decisions down the line and create an ethical consensus in the industry.”
Part two will be published on StopPress next week.
This piece was originally published in the 2019 Media Issue of NZ Marketing magazine. To get a print copy, subscribe here.