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MSM insinuates alcoholism at Otago

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Flaming couch-jumper appalled

Mainstream media are concerned after being presented a contract stipulating they do not have full filming rights during Otago University’s Orientation.

The contract states that media who are filming any O-Week event refrain from recording anything “showing severe intoxication…including, but not limited to vomiting, concussion, fighting, individuals receiving medical attention, and sexually explicit material”.

The contract applies only to broadcast media’s coverage of private concerts held in OUSA’s Union Hall. The contract also gives OUSA final approval before any footage is broadcast.

OUSA President Harriet Geoghegan says OUSA is concerned about biased media reporting that paint students in a bad light.

She says reports often rely on out-of-context footage to supplement stories that almost exclusively relay the negative aspects of Dunedin’s student drinking culture.

Geoghegan was concerned that people were being filmed, and the footage used, without their consent.

The contract was drafted in 2007 in response to C4’s Studentville show, which Geoghegan described as “a montage of people vomiting”. She says the contract is not an attempt to impinge on the ability of the press to report, but to protect OUSA’s members from an “unfair” media witch-hunt.

Dave Goosselink, a Dunedin-based reporter for 3 News, likened OUSA to the Fijian regime.

TVNZ refused to sign the contract, but stated they would not film orientation events if OUSA did not want them to.

OUSA are unsure if they can take any legal action regarding a breach of this contract, but they have said anyone with a media pass filming an orientation event who has not signed the contract will be asked to leave.

Geoghegan concedes that some of the contract’s wording may be seen as over zealous and she is looking to rectify this in the future.

Geoghegan and others in the association have expressed bemusement at the uproar the contract has caused in the media, and have raised questions about the media’s motives.

It was pointed out to Otago University’s student magazine Critic by Geoghegan, and others independently of this story, that athletes at the Masters Games, held on the Otago campus in early February, behaved in a raucous manner. This behaviour was overlooked by the mainstream media—including by Close Up’s Mark Sainsbury—who was filming stories at the event.

Witnesses say they saw Masters Games participants drinking heavily, vomitting, causing damage, and fornicating and urinating on campus grounds. Critic understands that used condoms were found in the bushes around the Union Lawn.

Geoghegan, whose office overlooks the area where the Athletes Village was located, said it was “worse than an average scarfie party”.

When asked about the behaviour of Masters Games participants, a representative of the organising body said only that they “had received no complaints” and that what “people did on their own time was up to them”.

Geoghegan feels that this highlights the biased focus of the media on the behaviour of Dunedin students, and she pitches the media contract as an attempt to rectify this.

VUWSA President Max Hardy says VUWSA orientation events are not under the same scrutiny as the OUSA events.
“We haven’t had any specifc problems in the past that I am aware of.

“Media are free to attend all our events and we do not impose any restricitions on what they can report on. We trust them to do their job and report responsibly.”

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