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May 16, 2011 | by  | in News |
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OUSA and Planet Media : By their powers combined?

As Voluntary Student Membership edges closer, the Otago University Students’ Association has looked to student media for help coping with its expected loss of revenue.

An OUSA panel has reviewed Planet Media Dunedin Limited, a subsidary of OUSA that holds student magazine Critic and Radio One, giving recommendations as to how they can support OUSA in a VSM environment.

The idea that “PMDL should work proactively with OUSA to create a culture where OUSA membership is seen as desirable and natural” formed the basis of the recommendations.

Critic editor Julia Hollingsworth acknowledged the value of some of the recommendations, but thought others “propose big changes and should not be taken lightly.”

“I am particularly concerned that the recommendations appear to focus more on internal communication with OUSA… rather than creating a publication that is relevant and engaging to students.”

Issues around editorial freedom have caused some unease. Proposed recommendations would see a mentor appointed to the Critic editor to guide them on content and balanced reporting.

Critic, like Salient, has a charter ensuring editorial freedom. OUSA President Harriet Geoghegan claimed that should PMDL come under immediate ownership of OUSA, as was recommended, editorial independence would remain.

Salient co-editor Elle Hunt said she had reviewed the panel’s recommendations “with concern”.

“It’s crucial that student media retains editorial indepen-dence; otherwise its ability to ensure accountability and transparency in students’ associations is compromised.”

It is not yet known whether proposed changes will come into effect, as OUSA has opened the matter up to feedback from students. This comes at a particularly troublesome time for OUSA, which has been riddled with constitutional upheaval, the latest being the resignation of Geoghegan last week.

With Victoria University and VUWSA waiting for the VSM bill to be passed, they are yet to release details as to how and if Salient and the VBC will adjust in a voluntary environment.

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