ALEXANDER PRYAZHNIKOV AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 2704

Council Meeting: AUGUST 2018

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Court Reporting
Headlines and Captions
Taste Lack of

Overview

CASE NO: 2704

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF ALEXANDER PRYAZHNIKOV AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

FINDING: NO GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: AUGUST 2018

Alexander Pryazhnikov initially complained that the New Zealand Herald in publishing an articleDunedin man unanimously acquitted of raping 16-year-old girl acted unethically and created prejudice to the person in question. The article, sourced from theOtago Daily Times, was published on July 14, 2018.

Subsequently Mr Pryazhnikov extended his complaint to a Herald article about a Government target of 50 per cent of women on state sector boards by 2021 which he claimed “self-censored” the fact that, as reported by Bloomberg.com, the Minister had said they would ‘incentivise’ private companies to change including by using quotas.

Mr Pryazhnikov then further complained that a survey of headlines between June 20 and July 11 had shown theHerald had developed “a certain taste” for news relating to rape, violence, genitalia and excrement.

The Media Council again records that courts in democratic societies are open to the public and the media, serving as the eyes and ears of the public, have the right to publish accounts of court proceedings. There are legal restraints on what can and cannot be published, judges also have the discretion to suppress information and the media are also under an obligation to be fair, accurate and balanced.

The complaint about the reporting of this case raises none of those issues and therefore there is no case to support the contention that it was unethical or prejudicial.

The second complaint raises no issue for the Media Council.Different outlets will report differently on the same topic and the Council has no issue with the way this was reported in theHerald. As to whether the proposal outlined by the Minister is illegal in New Zealand, as Mr Pryazhnikov contends, the Media Council makes no comment as it does not deal with legal matters.

On the third point regarding the headlines which Mr Pryazhnikov finds disagreeable we would note that online news sites are not bound by the same space constraints as print newspapers and so there is a burgeoning amount of content online.The editor notes that hundreds of articles are posted each day. Not all of them will appeal to all readers and we would urge viewers to exercise discretion in accessing content they know will offend them.

None of Mr Pryazhnikov’s complaints raises any issue that could remotely be considered a breach of the Media Council Principles.

Finding: No Grounds to Proceed.