Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Complaint and culture

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  • jessica scott,

    Having read the North & South article ( a while ago now) the thing that most annoyed me was that it didn't actually address the 'myth' of natural childbirth at all. In my experience there are a range of approaches within midwifery (and obstetrics) from highly-interventionist to hands-off and a much wider range of options available to women, within a hospital or elsewhere, when giving birth than many people realise.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2010 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Canterbury University in England

    AFAIK, there isn't one.

    There's a University of Kent, which used to be called the University of Kent at Canterbury.

    There's a former FE college called Canterbury Christ Church University.

    And there's a degree mill in the Seychelles.

    Incidentally, has the use of the abbreviation MIT by a South Auckland tech ever been called into question?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    +2 to what Craig said.

    The Register Citizen is a newspaper serving Litchfiled County outside new York City.

    They have the gumption to put a FactCheck box on every story with an invitation to tell them about wrong or inaccurate information. Sounds like a grownup thing to do.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Gareth Ward,

    This. I saw that cover in the supermarket and recoiled from it – there was no way I was going to purchase it to read the story.

    Interesting. I didn't think it was a good cover, or that it did justice to the story, but I didn't have the same reaction as you guys did.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22811 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    'Kay -- I've contacted Virginia Larson and she's sending me a PDF to put up here. Giz a half an hour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22811 posts Report Reply

  • Alice Ronald, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I didn't have such a visceral reaction to it, but I did just kind of write it off. N&S seems to be tending towards sensationalist headlines/covers, like the one with a firefighter holding a baby & lamenting the lack of manly men. I'd like to read an intelligent, well-put together magazine, and those covers edge my impression of it into Women's Day world.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Hans Versluys,

    Regards the BSA and supernova issue, I was surprised the had to go forward to the BSA. If TVNZ had said: yup, we made that mistake, we accept the complaint, it would have been OK for the viewer, surely?

    I deal with official broadcast complaints too. No matter how utterly trivial and boring and vexatious they may be, they have to be procedurally correctly dealt with. It just shows how out-of-date the Broadcasting Act 1989 is - apart from such silliness as no adverts on Sunday morning or public holidays.

    I remember having had to deal with a complaint from one Indian group objecting to an item on another Indian group's programme, based on 8 of the 10 codes. What a waste of everybody's time.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2011 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • johnno,

    My understanding was that TVNZ acknowledged that they had made a mistake, but Don took it to the BSA becaue TVNZ did not do an on-air correction.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Hans Versluys, in reply to johnno,

    Some people do need a life (even complaints handlers).

    Auckland • Since Jul 2011 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Llewellyn, in reply to Sacha,

    I learnt many years ago that when you see something in the media that you have personal knowledge of, it's most likely wrong or distorted in some respect.

    Agreed. But given relative lack of public-service oriented media outlets and the pressures on private media businesses of things like globalisation, digitisation, commercialisation, commoditisation, competition, profit motives etc, sadly not surprising.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    There’s a former FE college called Canterbury Christ Church University.

    I think that's the one. I always thought it was a bit odd they'd gone for the fencers and nothing else, but I vaguely recall there being some dispute about the age of the club - the argument was that they'd been the Canterbury University Fencing Club for far longer than we had. Whereas I don't think snowboarding was very big in Victorian England.

    <i>In my experience there are a range of approaches within midwifery (and obstetrics) from highly-interventionist to hands-off and a much wider range of options available to women, within a hospital or elsewhere, when giving birth than many people realise.</i>

    A lot of the discussion (online, anyway) is driven by practices around childbirth in the US, which,.as someone said earlier in the thread, is just a totally different ballgame from the situation here (home births are illegal in a lot of states, for starters), and much, much messier, especially piled onto the financial mess healthcare entails over here. It's always been my impression that the New Zealand system might have its own problems but at least you have *choices*. (And, you know, no-one shaving your pubic hair without your permission. AFAIK.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to johnno,

    From the decision:

    Complaint
    [2] Donald McDonald complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the statement was inaccurate because “a supernova star at such close distance would barbeque the Earth”. He said that the distance from the Earth to its neighbouring galaxy Andromeda was at least 2 million light years.

    Standards
    [3] Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice is relevant to the determination of this complaint. It provides:

    Standard 5 Accuracy

    Broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming:

    • is accurate in relation to all material points of fact; and/or

    • does not mislead.

    Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant
    [4] TVNZ acknowledged that the figure in the item was incorrect. It said that the correct distance was 240 million light years. However, it considered that this distance was not a material point of fact in the item, which focused on the discovery of the supernova by a 10-year-old girl. TVNZ therefore declined to uphold the complaint.

    Referral to the Authority
    [5] Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr McDonald referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

    Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority
    [6] TVNZ referred the Authority to McDonald and RNZ,[1] in which the Authority declined to determine an accuracy complaint by Mr McDonald on the grounds that it was vexatious.

    Authority’s Determination
    [7] The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

    [8] The accuracy standard only applies to “material points of fact”. In our view, Mr McDonald’s complaint does not relate to any material points of fact contained in the brief report. The focus of the item was the fact that a 10-year-old girl had discovered a supernova; its distance from Earth was peripheral to the story.

    [9] Furthermore, we consider that Mr McDonald’s complaint was dealt with adequately and appropriately by the broadcaster, which accepted that the figure was incorrect, but explained that it was not material to the item.

    [10] Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 allows the Authority to decline to determine a complaint which it considers to be frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. Pursuant to this section, we decline to determine this complaint on the grounds that the complaint by Mr McDonald was frivolous and trivial.

    Broadcasters hate BSA complaints, and hate having to uphold them. On the two (I think) occasions where Media7 has received them, the issue has simply been people not liking what we’ve said, and neither has been upheld. I think one, about our scrutiny of the Let Us Spray documentary, went forward to the BSA and was not upheld. Which, in my view, was the correct decision.

    I can recall dealing via Twitter with a small science whoopsie in one Media7 item -- we didn't correct it in the show, but I promised to take it up with the person who'd written it. But if it does proceed to a complaint, a small factual correction goes into a tally of complaints upheld against the broadcaster, which I think is the problem. This shouldn’t have had to go to the full BSA. But TVNZ and other broadcasters can talk to the BSA about fixing that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22811 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Even a small factual correction goes into a tally of complaints upheld against the broadcaster, which I think is the problem

    Or the broadcaster could correct the small error before it is escalated to a BSA complaint. If they all did that, how would the volume of corrections materially affect reputations?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Alice Ronald,

    I wrote it off too, Alice, based on the cover, and much the same reaction as you to recent North and South content. I bought and read the manly men issue, and was... bemused by it. I've not really noticed any lack of celebrating men in NZ, so it was kind of bizarre, and it made me feel that North and South isn't really worth bothering with. Hence my disinterest in the midwifery article, which didn't look as though it was going to anything other than the usual harrumphing.

    But I am boggling over this.

    Q: What are the outcomes of the changes to maternity care in the 1990s, allowing midwives to act as independent lead carers, for mothers and babies?

    A: We have no idea. We don’t track those outcomes.

    WTF?!!! A major change to the way we do childbirth in this country, and no one keeps stats?

    W.r.t. the safety of home births and the like, Isis the Domestic and Laboratory Goddess (this is her blog name, which she uses so as not to have her blog come up first when someone searches on her professional name, because she holds a tenured science job at a major US university) has a post up about home birth, and this came out in the comments.

    That study shows that homebirth with a Dutch midwife has the same mortality rate as hospital birth with a Dutch midwife. That sounds great until you learn that another study, “Perinatal mortality and severe morbidity in low and high risk term pregnancies in the Netherlands: prospective cohort study,” also in the British Medical Journal shows that the perinatal mortality rate for LOW risk women cared for by Dutch midwives is HIGHER than the perinatal mortality rate for HIGH risk women cared for by Dutch obstetricians!

    The comment was from Amy Tuteur, who writes The Skeptical OB, so she perhaps has an agenda. Even so, the stats she reports are alarming. Which is why it would be bloody useful to have some decent stats tracking the experience in NZ.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Interesting. I didn’t think it was a good cover, or that it did justice to the story, but I didn’t have the same reaction as you guys did.

    Quite – but that might just be my childfree penis-bearing perspective coming into play. :) Personally (and IMHO x YMMV, of course) I’m more offended by the way women on manazine covers are digitally nipped, tucked and spackled and it’s so routine it’s more genuinely shocking to see an un-retouched photo like this Then again, I’m one of those freaks who doesn’t consider middle-age a hideous physical deformity. I'm sure that will change when I hit the Hawaii Four-O next April. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    home births are illegal in a lot of states, for starters

    I'm not sure if you can make home births illegal as such. After all, it happens accidentally all the time. But you can make it illegal for formally trained midwives to attend homebirths, which mainly means only unlicensed ones do it. I'm not sure if we have, or want, that kind of choice here.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to B Jones,

    But you can make it illegal for formally trained midwives to attend homebirths, which mainly means only unlicensed ones do it. I’m not sure if we have, or want, that kind of choice here.

    No, we don't! I meant that more to illustrate the *lack* of choice in the US (or, rather, how some choices are made far more unsafe than they need to be.)

    Also, my Internet died temporarily before I could edit, but upon reflection I remembered that the fencing club's tiff was with the *Cambridge* University fencing club, who definitely got there before us as the CUFC. (UC is still not Canterbury University, though, no matter how many times the Press refers to it that way.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • jessica scott, in reply to B Jones,

    The thing is, you can have a non-interventionist hospital birth with an obstetrician as your LMC, that is to say, a 'natural' birth. Use of drugs, interventions, midwives, obstetrician, home-birth are all actually different issues.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2010 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to jessica scott,

    that is to say, a 'natural' birth

    Haven't read the article. What does it say to back up the cover's claim about this being a "myth"?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Deborah,

    The comment was from Amy Tuteur, who writes The Skeptical OB, so she perhaps has an agenda. Even so, the stats she reports are alarming. Which is why it would be bloody useful to have some decent stats tracking the experience in NZ.

    There's this. It's a shame it doesn't go very far back, though. I suppose you could compare it to this, but unless you could see a sharp change at the time of changeover between systems, it wouldn't be much use to work out how effective the new policy is. Technology and best practice have changed over time (there are more c-sections done now and fewer ventouse/forceps, because the former has gotten safer), as well as the populations giving birth - more obesity=more gestational diabetes=bigger babies etc.

    Dr Amy totally has an agenda, but so do Ben Goldacre and so on. She doesn't seem to stand to gain financially from it, as a retired OB, whereas many of the people she gets stuck into are professional advocacy organisations and working in the field. I'm not sure I'd want her delivering my baby, but I'd be happy with her looking over safety isues in the back office. She seems to have a good grasp of statistics.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    I don’t usually read N&S that often, but seeing as my wife and I are trying, I thought it would be good to read. It was good to see an article which at least questioned the ‘natural childbirth’ angle. What distresses me is that midwives can vary so wildly, and don’t have to get a general nursing degree first, which is standard in a lot of other countries. My wife and I don’t really care whether the birth is natural experience or not, we just want a birth where my wife and our baby are given proper care and treatment.

    I have to say I didn’t even notice anything wrong with the cover until I was reading the follow up issue with the reaction.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 208 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to johnno,

    My understanding was that TVNZ acknowledged that they had made a mistake, but Don took it to the BSA becaue TVNZ did not do an on-air correction.

    TVNZ acknowledged a mistake, but declined to uphold the complaint: it was wrong, but did not mean the story breached the accuracy standard.

    I say TVNZ should have both accepted there was a mistake, and agreed there was a breach of the accuracy standard. Noting that the on-line version of the story would have a correction added.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BlairMacca,

    the ‘natural childbirth’ angle

    Can you elaborate about that. Or perhaps - with Russell's approval - someone can post a link to a copy of the article for the purposes of review/critique?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to BlairMacca,

    What distresses me is that midwives can vary so wildly, and don’t have to get a general nursing degree first, which is standard in a lot of other countries.

    The latter doesn't bother me, but the former really bugged me last time round when I called at least half a dozen before I could get one to take me on. There's a shortage, which impacts horribly on choice. If I hadn't been happy with the midwife I eventually got, I would have had to take whoever was on shift at the hospital, or pay $$$ to go private for obstetric care I didn't need for a very uneventful pregnancy.

    My wife and I don’t really care whether the birth is natural experience or not, we just want a birth where my wife and our baby are given proper care and treatment.

    I was happy, last time around, to get a midwife in a medium/low-decile practice in the end. I figured they'd be vigilant about all the real problems, and wouldn't have a pile of wealthy clients wanting all the extra woo.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The story.

    And that cover.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22811 posts Report Reply

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