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Panpa Bulletin : March 2006
debate over reporting of sui- cide has increased in New Zealand following the publi- cizing of draft protocols for respon- sible news reporting. In addressing Parliament's Justice and Electoral Committee enquiry regarding the Coroners Bill, Commonwealth Press Union, New Zealand Section chair- man, Tim Pankurst, argued that New Zealand's law on reporting suicides was one of the world's most stringent, yet the suicide rate for young people was among the world's highest. "Such stringency for this issue is not in the public interest," he said. Pankhurst said the CPU believed responsible reporting of suicide could provide a better understanding, lead to more discussion of alternatives and the help people can get, and perhaps lead to fewer suicides. The CPU's Media Freedom committee has been engaging with the Ministry of Health in an effort to develop mutually acceptable protocols. To this end Jim Tully, Head of School, Political Sciences and Communication, University of Canterbury, prepared draft protocols that would bind media organisations to accepting the need to: > Avoid simplistic explanations for suicide > Avoid presenting suicide as a method of coping with personal problems > Avoid focussing only on the deceased person's positive charac- teristics > Avoid language, images or presentation that glorifies, trivi- alises or romanticises suicide or persons who commit suicide > Avoid unnecessary reference to details of method or places of suicide. > Avoid speculation, especially surrounding celebrities > Take into account the impact of suicide on families and other survivors (and follow media codes of practice on privacy, grief and trauma) > Where appropriate, include community resources available for those at-risk such as help-lines and counselling services > Consult reputable sources when seeking comment on suicide The media had yet to accept the draft protocols but the CPU would be supporting them. Suicide, said Pankhurst, was an issue of legitimate concern to the public. The media could perform an important role in informing and educating the public. Stories could address likely causes, warn- ing signs, trends in suicide rates, recent advances in treatment and suicide prevention strategies. Media history database Calling all media history re- searchers. The ARC funding Cultural Research Network is build- ing a database of researchers who are investigating media history in Australia. The database is being es- tablished to encourage re- searchers to contact each other on matters of mutual interest, avoid duplication in research, to assist post- graduates and recent gradu- ates with research exposure and networking, to assist with developing cross-in- stitutional research part- nerships and joint research projects and to assist with easier development of Link- age grant applications and the involvement of industry partners. Access to the database will be free and will be searcha- ble by keywords, researcher, project and institution, with the ability to link to research profiles on university or or- ganization websites. for more information or to receive a copy of the form needed to be part of the database, go to www.uq.edu. au/crn/amhd/ or email crn@ uq.edu.au. 10 | PaNPa bUlletiN March 2006 NeWS draft protocol for reporting of suicide PROPOSAL by the US Securities and Exchange Commission to permit the replacement of paper- based proxy materials with an electronic system of notification and balloting has alarmed the Printing Industries of America/ Graphic Arts Technical Founda- tion (PIA/GATF). The proposal would allow com- panies to provide shareholders with annual reports and proxy vot- ing materials electronically, rather than mailing paper-based cop- ies. Shareholders who wished to continue to receive paper reports would have to request it. Michael Makin, President and CEO of PIA/GATF is concerned not only for the impact on his in- dustry, but for shareholders. "Printing annual reports and proxy materials accounts for a huge volume of work produced by our industry, which employs more than 1.2 million workers nation- wide," said Makin." As an industry, we are concerned not only about the negative impacts this pro- posed rule could have on the jobs associated with printing, but with the harm it could bring to our ven- dors and suppliers as well. "We're also concerned with the workability of this proposed rule, as shareholders without Internet access may be disenfranchised. Senior citizens may be adversely affected, as research varies widely as to the online user status of this group. Additionally, sharehold- ers who are more confident with receiving personal financial infor- mation on paper could be forced to forgo this reliance. "We believe the SEC should strike an appropriate balance be- tween the desires of the compa- nies with the impact that will hit hard the companies we represent, while also considering shareholder choice." Sec proposal slammed fairfax photos Photo by rob hoMer