There is always an element when publishing something, either officially or unofficially, off being conscious of ones reputation and role. It is something that is constantly in the back of the mind as I write here, and on my other blogs. From your writing people will get impressions about you, and they may even get impressions of your workplace, even when you stress that ‘the opinions are your own and in no way reflect…’
I was struck yet again how difficult this is in today’s instant media age, and how easy it is to damage not only your reputation, but that of the place you work at. In this morning’s New Zealand herald there is this story:
Education Minister Anne Tolley is to complain to the Speaker Lockwood Smith over a Parliamentary Library research paper on national standards in primary schools.
Mrs Tolley said the paper was “unprofessional”, “highly political” and so biased it could have been written by the union opposing the policy.
Mrs Tolley wants the paper withdrawn and rewritten.
Library researchers frequently produce papers on topics of the day, on the economy and legislation before the House.
They are displayed in the library, in the Beehive cafeteria and some are available on Parliament’s website.
You can read the offending paper here. I haven’t read it fully yet, so I can’t comment yet on whether the criticism is valid. Of concern to me is that a Minister felt they needed to complain to the Speaker in the first place. The Parliamentary Library has for many years had an unblemished record of impartiality. It will take only one paper to tarnish that record. I hope that the Parliamentary Library has dotted it’s I’s and crossed it’s t’s. What it does mean is that I will be thinking about what the meaning of impartiality is. Is impartiality adopting the position of the government? Does it mean you can’t publish anything critical? I certainly don’t think so, but it does mean that if you do publish something critical it must be above reproach.