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SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1933. Volume 4. Number 6.

What is True Function of Modern Press — Debate at University

What is True Function of Modern Press

Debate at University

Holding what was perhaps the most orderly meeting of the year, the Debating Society discussed the subject, "That the modern daily press fails to perform the true function of journalism." Messrs Watson and Fortune spoke for the affirmative, and Messrs McGhie and Edgley for the negative. The audience was small but select.

Mr. Watson defined the true function of journalism as the presentation of an objective account of affairs in which the public is interested. He contended that the accounts generally published in the daily press are not objective or impersonal, but, on the other hand, he said, misrepresentation, suppression, and selection of facts obscured the truth of the report.

In lighter vein, Mr. McGhie maintained that the papers gave the people what, they wanted, because they could not carry on otherwise. Since New Zealand was a capitalist state, he added, it was natural that capitalists should finance the press. He quoted the case of papers which do not pay because of their political bias.

Mr. Fortune, seconding Mr. Watson, advocated a system of state control where the present coudition which he considered most unsatisfactory could not exist.

Mr. Edgeley seconding the negative, seemed to have been sufficiently interested in his subject to amass a few facts, and his speech provided a pleasing contrast to the meanderings and theorisings of some of the other speakers. His case for the press was well thought out.

The audience then joined in the battle. Among those to speak were Mr. Larkin, who thought that advertisers and other influential powers dictated the policy of a paper ; Mr. Mountjoy who wished for a return to the earlier methods of journalism, and to that of Defoe in particular ; and Mr. Scott whose light and carefree speech provided a contrast.

Dr. McIlraith the judge placed Mr. Mountjoy first, Mr. Larkin second, and Mr. Fortune third.

The audience voted in favour of the affirmative.