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February 2021 Cabinet Election #6 - Minister of Media Debate


Year 18 | 10 February 2021

Moderator: James D. Halpert | Participants: Belschaft, Islas and Rabbitz

Welcome to the February 2021 Minister of Media Debate!

I am James Halpert and I will be the moderator of this debate with Belschaft, Islas and Rabbitz, candidates for Minister of Media. This debate is sponsored by the South Pacific Independent News Network.

The format of this debate will consist of three sections:

ē The first section will feature questions for all candidates on their qualifications, intended policies and their visions for the coming term.
ē The second section will feature specific questions for each candidate.
ē The third section will allow each candidate to ask one question to their opponent(s), after which a few minutes for discussion will be allowed.

Candidates are asked to clearly mark the end of their answers so that I may know when to invite the other candidate to answer or to move on to the next question and to answer no later than 3 minutes after a question has been asked. If any candidate wishes to respond to their opponent at any time, they should first ask for the floor; the goal of this is to keep an orderly flow of discussion and avoid excessive interruptions.

Opening Statements

[Belschaft] Hello all, Belschaft here. Former Delegate, current High Court Justice, and TSP's official curmudgeon. There is one clear and simple dividing line between myself and my honourable opponents in this debate; I have no desire to be a Cabinet Minister, and as such do not think the Ministry of Media should exist. If you elect me my first, second, and only objective will be to abolish it.

[Islas] The Ministry has a bright future but only if its allowed to exist. The ministry is in all of our hands and i dont think passing it off to private interests is the way to go because we would quickly fall behind: We have to look at the ministry as not only a service for media, but also an organization that can inform the larger world of our thinking and activities.

[Rabbitz] Howdy y'all! You know me as that loveable rabbit that occasionally eats your lawn, eats people, and writes articles for MoM. Anyway, I hope that I can bring my expertise that I have learned from Islas and Seraph to the forefront of TSP, and make TSJ the greatest defender newspaper!

What role do you see for the Ministry of Media both in the region and abroad given the presence of publications such as NationStates Today, The Rejected Times and SPINN?

[Belschaft] I do not see a role for a Ministry of Media. I believe that journalism should be conducted independently of the regional government, and that whilst the region's bureaucracy should enable news services to operate in TSP - as it already does, with SPINN as a fine example of how this works - the Cabinet should not be involved in this. At best government run news services in NS serve as means of spreading propaganda, but far more often they are completely ineffective and frequently inactive. Media is best left to dedicated players with a genuine interest in NS journalism, not people seeking a Cabinet office to burnish their CV.

[Islas] The ministry is a competitor of TRT, but in the sense that Burger King and Mcdonalds compete to sell coke drinks: we are in actuality working together to advance prodefender views. I think this is the key here, we have finally under my leadership established a wing through which the whole game can understand and come to the Defender ideology. Spinn and nstoday are fine and all but dont really approach the level or idea of what I'm doing as minister, even though im lead to believe theyre doing really well.

[Rabbitz] In terms of within the region, I see MoM as the #1 defenderist source of information for the denizens of TSP. However, with newspapers such as TRT and NST, we need to up our content level and start producing more information about international events. As such, the TSJ needs to include not only regional news but foreign news. This will not only bring the TSJ up with the ranks of TRT and NST, but it would also bring prestige and honor to the region of TSP.

Do you think there is merit in purely factual content either in the Ministry of Media or in privately-owned regional publications or do you think time and effort would be better spent in analysis, statistics and opinion content?

[Islas] Theres obviously both an appetite for, and a want to produce both kinds, and i have so far sought to release both forms.

[Rabbitz] I do not think there is much merit in writing factual-based content in MoM; and since SPINN is privately owned and operated, itís not my place to give an opinion on them.

The time and effort should be allocated to writing opinion-based news, specifically defenderist-opinionated news since we are a defenderist region. In terms of stats and analysis, they should be run bi-monthly to check up on the peopleís opinion of the Cabinet and positions within it.

[Belschaft] My opponents have described their principle objectives as Minister of Media as being to "advance pro-defender views" and serving as a "defenderist source of information". Regardless of their stated answers to this question I think this reveals their clear intent for the Ministry of Media to promote a particular viewpoint, that of the Cabinet and government. I fundamentally believe that journalism should be objective, factual, critical of those who hold power and open to multiple opinions and viewpoints. This is the principle reason why it should be independent of the government.

[Islas] That implies that tsp has no right to be heard, we dont have to be quiet we have as much a right of anybody to say what we believe to the whole game.

If elected, will you pursue a neutral stance for Ministry publications or will there be an open bias, for example towards defenders? Why do you think your view is the right one for the region? In the case of Belschaft, could you expand on your answer to the previous question?

[Rabbitz] I will pursue an open-bias that will be geared towards defenders. And in terms of why, it's because a) we are simply a defenderist region and b) we could potentially create a newspaper that will not only be the mouth of TSP but the mouth of defenderism itself.

[Belschaft] If I want to know what the government thinks I read Cabinet statements or official regional announcements. The point of journalism is at it's most fundamental level to find out what those with power don't want the public to know and reveal it. A government run news service can never really conduct proper journalism or provide genuinely impartial news, because it's interest are fundamentally those of the government. Where public journalism works in the real world it is run at a distance, free of editorial control or influence by the government. I do not believe that a news service which will print how brilliant and fantastic Defending and the SPSF is - regardless of what the reality is - does the region any good.

[Islas] I am already operating the ministry under a prodefender ideology, and will plan to continue doing so. Tsp has the right to follow and advance its interests, including those for the native nations in raidable regions. Not to say that every piece will necessarily be even about defenderism or our interests there.

Impartiality is for those who don't know what they want, I'll never be ashamed to proudly be defender.

A common issue tend to be the inability of ministers of get the full staff to respond and write content. How do you intend to deal with that issue and ensure that quality content is published and in a timely manner. In the case of Belschaft, would you play any role in ensuring that citizens have an interest in journalism and find the resources or avenues necessary to further those interests?

[Belschaft] In the short term - prior to officially abolishing the Ministry of Media - I would talk to everyone currently involved, and will help those who have a genuine interest in journalism either get involved in an existing news service or start their own. Longer term I think there is a clear role for the region's bureaucracy to enable independent media by establishing sub-forums, promoting their work via regional TG and dispatches, and so forth. Ultimately this is all dependent, as ever, on there being players in TSP with a genuine passion for journalism and the willingness to do the work - such as the many players who have taken over SPINN throughout the years, each giving it their own spin.

[Islas] I have ran into this, the main goal is it grow the ministry, this months paper i aim to have less islas pieces but the same amount of content. This question points to an important reality based fact: We need people tp step up and work for the ministry, else belschaft is able to tear it down. One of my weaknesses is time related management, and im going to have to rely on the camaraderie in the ministry to get through it.

[Rabbitz] In terms of getting the full-staff to respond and write quality content, I will ask that each and every person of MoM write at least one news story by the end of each month. And in order to keep them in an orderly fashion, I will ask that each and every person of MoM hold each other accountable for writing their articles. In addition, I will be on top of those who promised to write an article. I will even compose a chart that will say who has written an article, and how many, and who has not; it would be renewed each month. In terms of being on time, I will proudly use our Trello board to micromanage every piece of potential information with their due dates listed accordingly. That way, no one can be confused about what's going on.

The outgoing Cabinet received a fair amount of criticism for a lack of accountability and transparency. How do you think the Ministry of Media has fared in those two areas, and what will you go if elected to ensure that the public knows what you are doing?

[Islas] I stepped up to be appointed to help the ministry, transparency has been an issue, and i can certainly seek to be more open with the region, but so far people have been up to date where my involvement here is concerned, we said wed release a newspaper and did, and have advertised the new publication LD pretty good, maybe people would want to see a tour of the ministry mtv cribs style?

[Rabbitz] In terms of accountability, up until when Islasí took over, there was hardly anything being produced. Content was promised, and the people of TSP received crumbs. Real-Time was promised, and itís currently rotting-away in its desolate channel. In terms of transparency, there wasnít anything to nothing to hide since there wasnít anything going on. To minimize this, Trello Board. The Trello Board will be pinned and used and displayed in the main channel of MoM so that everyone knows what is happening. In addition, updates will be sent in the #announcements that will let the people know what is upcoming and what they can expect.

[Belschaft] Good journalism holds those in office to account, shines a spotlight on the failings of those with power, and provides information to the public - and thus leads to good government. Does anyone really think that the Ministry of Media will publish stories about government failings or articles critical of the Cabinet? Both Rabbitz and Islas have been clear that their intention is to promote the governments preferred viewpoint in TSP and abroad.

In terms of myself and my own accountability, if I havenít shut down the Ministry of Media within a month the Assembly should recall me. Feel free to quote me on that if necersary.

Desserts are a contentious issue in the region. Do you prefer cake or pie?

[Rabbitz] Cake.

[Belschaft] American style pie or real pie?

[Islas] Pie!

Cake i think is nasty, unless its cheesecake.

But cheesecake sets up an unreasonable standard to hold all other cheese to, so its pie.

Belschaft, what would you do if you were elected but the Assembly refused to abolish the Ministry of Media?

[Belschaft] Well, I imagine we would be in something of an impasse if that occurred. It's quite possible - it requires a supermajority to amend the Charter, but less than that to be elected. I would simply keep the Ministry closed and inactive if this was the case, though absenting myself from all Cabinet matters and discussion unless specifically asked by the PM to take part. My hope would be that if elected with a clear mandate to abolish the Ministry of Media I would be able to pass the legislation through the Assembly.

Islas, as you know many people can sign up to the Ministry without actually contributing when asked to write. What specific steps will you follow to bring people into the Ministry and actually keep them engaged?

[Islas] I have been privately approaching various people to write for us, and placed an ad in the rmb, i hope to do these things more and rn i can say we are drafting a new ad campaign to get people in the ministry and working or joining there.

Rabbitz, you last held elected office when you were Chair of the Assembly and, in that position, resigned amid calls for a recall. How would you assure voters that a similar situation would not happen if you are elected?

[Rabbitz] I apologize for that, and I take full responsibility for my actions. What separates now from then is that I have a plan that will not only keep my staff accountable, by myself as well. My policy will be is that if I'm not doing my job, my staff has permission to ping me until I do it. In addition, I have measures that will makes sure, in the case I do go dark, the quotas of TSJ will always be met: the Trello Board.

Cross Questioning and Discussion

[Islas] What's your problem with defenders bels?

[Belschaft] I don't have any problem with Defenders. I was a Defender for several years, and some of my closest and dearest friends in NS are or were Defenders. I was a founding member of a major Defender organisation - the UDL - and served with distinction in the FRA. I generally speaking don't like "moralism" which tries to suggest that people playing a game in an approved and legal manner are bad, bullies, or in any other way nasty. I've known some horrible people who were Defenders and some lovely people who were Raiders, and vice versa - whether or not someone is a good person has nothing to do with R/D. I also dislike exclusionary and otherwise proscriptive ideologies which try keep players out of a region for disagreeing with the current government, or for for playing the game in a legal manner. I think it's an infantile behaviour which makes our community less diverse and poorer for it.

[Rabbitz] My question is also for Bel: TSP is a prominent defender region, and has the potential to use its influence to support and gain potential defenderist regions. So by eliminating the MoM, and subsequently TSJ, which has the potential of being the #1 source of information for defenders, wouldn't you be suppressing the influence of defenderism and the values of defenderism by letting other newspapers get prominence?

[Islas] I mean i dont think ive followed a line thats derogatory of raiders, whats the problem with a fair and widespread examples of our defender beliefs?

Youve gone against it so far today, have you read the tsj? Can you point to one thing in there that you disagree with?

[Belschaft] The answer to both these question is simple - journalism isn't about promoting anything, and certainly not trying to increase the influence of the government. Your confusing journalism with propaganda.

[Islas] This is word games, all of it is on a scale of both everywhere.

[Rabbitz] Would you or would you not be suppressing the values of defenderism by letting other newspapers take hold (such as whatever TWP has)?

Let me remind you that TWP leans toward raiderism.

[Belschaft] My question to you both is fairly simple; Why has it taken the creation of a new Cabinet position for either of you to show any interest in NS journalism? We can see with SPINN a clear example of how effective, engaging and positive it can be when someone with real passion for it starts a newspaper. To me it looks a lot like your real passion here is joining the Cabinet.

[Islas] Hey rabbitz, do you agree that we are legitimized in our work and given special advantages by the means of access to areas that a private writer wouldn't be able to get to as an official ministry?

[Belschaft] I'm not sure "TWP engages in government propaganda so why shouldn't we?" is a persuasive argument.

[Islas] I wanted to help out, and frankly dont care if either me or rabbitz is minister.

I dont think theres anything wrong with trying to help the region, im not sure there were any other options.

[Rabbitz] We both saw an opportunity to help our region, and we took it. Why did other people join MoM? Was it simply to earn recognition and experience to later have a ground to speak on when they would run for a Cabinet a position, or was it just to help out their region?

[Islas] Rabbitz is likely to become minister if i do anyway, he's deputy.

[Rabbitz] I would like to remind you that the TSJ is not propaganda. We are not seeking to control our denizens lives, but just trying to give a mighty voice to defenderism.

[Belschaft] I mean, from the way I read your responses you both seem to be admitting that you have minimal if any actual interest in journalism - which really is my problem with the whole concept of the Ministry of Media.

[Rabbitz] I believe both of us have written and edited content for TSJ.

[Belschaft] To be frank I think you could both spend your time far more effectively and productively doing something else which you actually are interested in, rather than trying to become Minister of Media because it's there.

[Rabbitz] Plus, MoM isn't just about journalism; there's also statistics, analysis, and maybe Real-Time.

[Belschaft] I don't think wanting to serve the region is a bad thing - it's admirable.

Running for an office you're not actually interested in because it's available isn't.

[Islas] I hardly care if im minister.

I've wanted to write for us for forever, and this was a good chance.

[Belschaft] What was stopping you?

[Islas] RL, other interests.

I plan to continue working even if I'm not elected.

[Rabbitz] I am interested in it. If I wasn't, then I wouldn't have made multiple strategies that would help MoM and instead made vague statements of what I would do.

[Belschaft] So if you don't want to be a Minister, and your passion is writing Islas.... why are you running for a political office? Why aren't you out there writing, finding stories, running a newspaper?

[Islas] I'm doing both.

Rabbitz could confirm, I've released a ld piece like since its started.

[Rabbitz] Plus, part of MoM is getting interested in the politics of TSP. So we would have to balance both an interest in politics and a passion for writing.

[Islas] The polls said people wanted me, i didnt originally intend on running.

[Belschaft] To be quite frank, I don't believe either of you. Your stories don't add up to me.

[Islas] I can't speak for Rabbitz.

[Rabbitz] Belschaft. Let me ask you something: if MoM wasn't doing bad and the TSJ was actually in the field of overtaking the likes of NST and TRT, would you still be in this position right now?

[Islas] But he could confirm I didn't seek reelection until the polls were released and individuals encouraged me to run as well.

[Belschaft] I think I've made it very clear that I object to the Ministry of Media on a fundamental level, regardless of questions of performance.

[Rabbitz] Or would you be wearing a hat that says "MoM is the best"?

Belschaft, did you have similar disagreements regarding the media department of the Ministry of Regional Affairs?

[Belschaft] Yes, but to a lesser degree. I've always had a clear preference for independent media but back when it was under the portfolio of MoRA it was somewhat more distant from direct political control.

[Islas] Favorite fruit?

[Belschaft] Bananas.

Other than TSP, which region do you think is the best in NS and why?

[Islas] As a member in 3 regions, the tie is ofc tsp, xki, and the internationale.

Will both of you commit to one article in this month's tsj?

[Rabbitz] 'Course.

[Belschaft] I'd be happy to write for any news papers which is interested in my views, assuming I have the time and something interesting to say.

Closing Statements

[Islas] I trust the future of the ministry with Rabbitz, I'm completely fine if either of us are elected, if the ministry's allowed to exist I see a bright future.

As for belschaft, feel free to open your own media service, maybe it will pass a censor board for tsp nonregional media :thinking: :stuck_out_tongue:

[Belschaft] In regards to closing remarks, I believe that there is a clear and undeniable difference in opinion here between Islas and Rabbitz on one side and myself on the other. That difference is fundamental, and is about the proper roles of journalism and the government. I wish them both well, but I think a Minister of Propaganda would be bad for TSP and I urge the assembly not to elect one.

[Rabbitz] I'm a visionary, and I have a vision for MoM. If my strategies to reach that vision haven't convinced you to vote for me in any way, then tell me so that I may better. If they have, then I will not fail either TSP myself again.

The South Pacific Independent News Network (SPINN) is an independent news organisation established in 2003 with the goal of providing good, insightful and timely commentary on regional events for the citizens of the South Pacific. Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board. Content is published via pseudonyms. The SPINN is not associated with the Government of the South Pacific.