In this job there’s a lot of pressure to do as the rest of the media does — to be present at every event, to turn up to interview blow-through overseas executives who basically know bugger all about New Zealand and, essentially, to follow the pack.
This week’s front cover made me reflect on the benefits of charting your own course. Why? Because it is absolutely chocker with important stories that the daily papers have failed to cover.
Way back in June last year, Computerworld writer Stephen Bell was poring through the new Banking Code of Practice. It had been released days earlier and covered merely with an NZPA announcement that it existed. Nobody else in the media actually read it.
Stephen’s subsequent story went global; it was picked up by Computerworld US, from there Slashdotted and commented on; from there into the Aussie media where the parents of most of New Zealand’s banks began backpeddalling furiously.
A week after Computerworld New Zealand’s story we formed a united front with the Dominion Post’s Infotech Weekly section to campaign against the code. It was withdrawn and has been back in committee ever since — until this week.
As you can see, the code has been changed. There is every likelihood that without Stephen’s dedication it would have quietly slipped into force without anyone being the wiser — and much to the detriment of the consumer.
The other front page story is another case in point. Computerworld has been hammering away at health sector ICT for weeks with very little follow through from the mainstream papers. Once again, there are serious issues at stake. How secure is your health information? How secure should it be? How should our public/private systems be integrated?
HealthLink’s rebellion from a network interconnect plan comes at a time when health IT is under the spotlight. There is a new minister in place eager to make the kinds of differences in health he has so clearly made in telecommunications. Health, as always, will be an election issue.
Last week, Computerworld lifted the veil on Auckland’s integrated ticketing smartcard project — the costs ($100 million-plus of taxpayers’ or ratepayers’ money), the structure of the contract, the shortlisted vendors and the risks. All stuff never reported before.
Then there was the US-inspired Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement that we appear to be quietly signing up to. Presumably it doesn’t matter that Customs could be given the power to search your iPod or laptop for pirated material and to impose penalties on the spot?
Computerworld could choose to go where the other publications go. That would actually be a lot easier than doing what we do. Let’s face it, it’s all laid out on a plate for you by the numerous public relations practitioners employed by ICT vendors.
We choose, as much as we can, not to.