The New Zealand Press Council

PRESS COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP

Membership and Associate Membership applications invited

The Press Council has extended its remit to include digital media and bloggers and is now calling for applications for membership and associate membership of the Press Council. See here

The Press Council is also seeking applications from suitable journalists to sit on the Press Council to determine the complaints. See advertisement here.


If you have a complaint about the editorial content of a newspaper, magazine or periodical in circulation in New Zealand (including their websites) you may complain to the Press Council. You may also complain about digital sites with news content, including blogs characterised by news commentary, that have been accepted as members or associate members of the Council.

The Press Council was established in 1972 as an industry self-regulatory body and provides an independent forum for resolving complaints involving the press and other news media.

The Press Council is funded by industry and there is no cost to lodge a complaint.

The Press Council also lobbies on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press issues.

Press Council Members

NEW ZEALAND PRESS COUNCIL OFFICERS

Hon Sir John Hansen KNZN, Independent Chairman, Retired Judge of the High Court, Canterbury
Mary Major Executive Director, Wellington

Representing the Public
Peter Fa'afiu General Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, Tamaki Redevelopment Company, Auckland
Sandy Gill Consultant and mother, Lower Hutt
Chris Darlow Lawyer, Auckland
Tim Beaglehole Emeritus Professor, Wellington
Liz Brown Independent Consultant, Horowhenua
Marie Shroff Indpendent Consultant, Wellington (Alternate Member)

Representing Editors (nominated by the Newspaper Publishers' Association)
Mark Stevens Digital Editor, Fairfax Media NZ, Wellington
John Roughan New Zealand Herald Assistant Editor, Auckland

Representing Magazines (nominated by the Magazine Publishers' Association)
Jenny Farrell Editor, KiaOra Air New Zealand inflight magazine, Auckland
Virginia Larson Editor, North & South (Alternate member), Auckland

Representing Journalists (nominated by the NZ Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union , media division)
Stephen Stewart Journalist, Wellington
Vernon Small Journalist, Press Gallery, Wellington

Case Number: 2411 AARON LETCHER AGAINST WAIKATO TIMES

Council Meeting DECEMBER 2014

 The Press Council has upheld, by a majority of 8:3, a complaint against the Waikato Times over a front page report of a claim that Young Nationals had bought hundreds of copies of the book Dirty Politics, intending to burn them.

Aaron Letcher, president of the Waikato University Students’ Union and a former member of Young Nationals, complained that the story was factually wrong, unsubstantiated, based entirely on rumour and damaging to him.

The story was spread across the front page on August 21, eight days after the publication of the book. The report was accompanied by a graphic illustration of books being set alight and it cited “rumour” that Mr Letcher had bought 202 copies to burn.

In response the newspaper said was reporting allegations, not stating as fact that Mr Letcher was involved in plans for book burning. Mr Letcher’s denial had been given prominence.

The Press Council recognises that social media are a frequent source of information that can be checked and developed into stories capable of meeting the standards of accuracy, fairness and balance expected by readers of a reliable newspaper.
In this case the Council does not believe the newspaper had sufficient corroboration of the claim on Facebook.

While Mr Letcher’s denial was also reported prominently, this did not redeem the report. Newspapers need to be careful when dealing with rumour that is denied. A false accusation can easily be made for the purpose of forcing a political opponent to deny it publicly. That indeed is said to be a device of “dirty politics”. Newspapers should take care to ensure they are not unwitting instruments of it.





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Latest Rulings
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2428 - MIKE TALKS AGAINST STUFF
2427 - CRAIG SMITH AGAINST OTAGO DAILY TIMES
2426 - MARK HANNA AGAINST WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE
2425 - SCIENCE MEDIA CENTRE AGAINST WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE
2424 - CATHERINE O'BRIEN AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD
2422 - SMART WHANAU AGAINST THE SOUTHLAND TIMES
2421 - JACK RUBEN AGAINST THE DOMINION POST
2420 - JAYNE ROUTHAN AGAINST THE DOMINION POST
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