I believe passionately that 900 lines need to be self-policing. It was for this reason that I started the ball rolling which led to the formation of the 0900 IPANZ (The 0900 Information Providers' Association of New Zealand Inc.) which now represents approximately a third of the New Zealand 0900 lines in what is loosely termed the "New Age" area. My reasons are as follows:
It seems to me that many psychic lines are shooting themselves in their own feet, killing the goose that lays the golden egg - pick your own metaphor ? we're our own worst enemies. Although there are some very gifted and sincere people working on the phones, there are also some very dubious practices happening out there, and it is in everyone's interests to clean up our acts and help the public identify which lines are reputable and which are not. For that matter, prospective readers need to be able to identify honest employers with ethical standards they feel comfortable with.
900 lines are easy targets for the media. At present, whenever a reporter "exposes" a scandal there is no official source to turn to for informed comment. In fact, some of those consulted for expert opinion often muddy the waters still further with their ill considered remarks. Again, this points to the need for some sort of recognizable body to represent our interests.
Another interesting phenomenon is the mushrooming of self created "organizations" to bolster the credibility of lines in their advertisements. There are almost as many dubious Societies and Associations out there as there are shoddy operators. Why not a real organization instead of the fake ones? Clearly the invention of fictitious credentials suggests that there is a belief that this is something the public wants.
I believe that 900 lines have much to offer. The best of us are professional friends for the lonely; we are confidantes and confessors for troubled souls who have lost touch with their spiritual roots; we offer anonymity to country folks who fear that their troubles would be all around the town if they consulted a local counselor; we offer immediacy and convenience of consultation, resulting in cost effectiveness for the busy caller; we are accurate, ethical and professional. In short, we are a very talented bunch!
What we are not is united. I would love to see an international association of 900 line owners and workers, working as a loose cooperative in much the same way that the 0900 IPANZ operates. What would be its benefits to us as individuals?
We would be gaining control over our own industry. We would govern ourselves - develop a Code of Ethics as so many other disciplines have done. It would give us leverage in our dealings with the authorities, the line providers being one of the prime examples. It is my firm belief that if we don't regulate ourselves it will be done for us by way of punitive legislation that could plunge us back into the Dark Ages.
We could develop relationships amongst ourselves. Ours is a very isolating profession and we could all do with some professional friends of our own to share our experiences and ideas with, thus helping to overcome problems of geographical isolation.
In addition we could improve our relationships with the media, citizen's groups etc. On a practical level, combined debt collection facilities could make the lines more profitable, which in its turn could be passed on to the readers via their pay packets.
In short, we need a more professional image. I am NOT talking about a Psychic Police Force. I AM talking about a loose professional association that would benefit the line operators, the readers, and the public. Want to join the Crusade...?
Secretary, 0900 IPANZ Inc.
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