KAYE MOLONY AGAINST KAPITI OBSERVER

Case Number: 907

Council Meeting: DECEMBER 2002

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Kapiti Observer

Ruling Categories: Taste Lack of
Accuracy

Paraparaumu Beach woman Kaye Molony complains about two articles in the Kapiti Observer - dated July 15 and July 18, 2002 - regarding the sudden death of her son.

The first article announces the police and pathologist investigations into two unexplained and unrelated deaths being looked into by Kapiti police. The second reports the “not suspicious” findings from both autopsies.

The July 15 article briefly refers to injuries sustained by Mrs Molony’s son; the final article is almost entirely about a post mortem finding that the other reported death is not suspicious, tagging on the same finding for Mrs Molony’s son only in the concluding paragraph.

Kaye Molony complains that some of the reported information is inaccurate, but does not say what or how, and that the articles contravene police assurances that no information regarding the death would be given to the news. She adds that the reporting was insensitive for its repetition in the two articles.

In response, Kapiti Observer editor Diane Joyce offers her sincere condolences to the Molony family but says the articles were factual according to the details given by the police. The final paragraph in the last piece, she says, was simply to advise the public that it had been officially confirmed that the death was not suspicious.

It is understandable that the parent of a person deceased in such circumstances would be upset at reading an account in the local newspaper. The Kapiti Observer perhaps slightly exceeded tasteful boundaries when it repeated injury details in the second of the pieces. Nor did not aid its case with a somewhat confusing juxtaposition of the two – unrelated – deaths.

But Kaye Molony errs in arguing that reporters are bound by police assurances given to her and in her belief that the paper’s coverage sensationalised and trivialised her son’s death.

Our condolences go out to Kaye Molony and her family for their loss. But the articles complained of can in no way be described as sensationalist and the fact that two bodies were found and stretched police resources at the same time would have been of interest to a small community.

The complaint is not upheld.