MARGARET ROOKE AGAINST RODNEY TIMES

Case Number: 849

Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2001

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Rodney Times

Ruling Categories: Photographs

This is a complaint by Margaret Rooke against the Rodney Times about a photograph published on 26 July 2001.

The photograph accompanied an article outlining a local dispute over public access to the beach at Jamieson Bay. The photograph shows two signs at the beginning of the roadway to the beach.

The photograph of one of these signs is the cause of Ms Rooke’s complaint. The sign says “No vehicles past this point”. Ms Rooke said the sign has a join in it where it was mended after being damaged and that it has a Rodney County Council logo on it. Ms Rooke provided the Council with a photo she had taken illustrating these two features. Neither of these features is visible in the published photo.

The article states that the Rodney County Council will defend the public’s right to use the access road which most of the residents claim is private.

Ms Rooke maintains that this is in conflict with the RCC’s sign and so the photo should have shown the sign more clearly. She says the photo is not accurate.

The Rodney Times denies “doctoring” the photo and states that the photographer had not realised the logo was on the sign until approached by Ms Rooke. The paper maintains that the article was fair and balanced and that the loss of detail in the photo is usual when reproduction is on newsprint.

The Council finds that while the photo did not show the logo, there was not any manipulation or other sharp practice on the newspaper’s part in the failure of the published photo to reveal the detail of Ms Rooke’s complaint. Even on the photo supplied by Ms Rooke to support her complaint, the detail was faint.

The complaint was not upheld.

People with complaints against a newspaper should first complain in writing to the editor of the publication and then, if not satisfied with the response, complain to the Press Council. Complaints should be addressed to the Secretary, P O Box 10-879, The Terrace, Wellington. Tel 473 5220. Information on the Press Council is available on the internet at www.presscouncil.org.nz