Case Number: 843

Council Meeting: September 2001

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Accuracy

D Wakim (spokesperson) and G Duff (Secretary) have again complained, on behalf of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, about the use by New Zealand Herald of the identifier 'Israel' over a report to do with the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Press Council had not upheld a previous similar complaint commenting that such tags are not to be confused with headlines and carry no political freight. Editors should be able to diversify their news pages with labels to identify the general locale or subject of a story. (Case no 827 of 5 July 2001).

In this case a report from the Telegraph Group Ltd was carried in the Weekend Herald of 16-17 June, under an identifying tag 'Israel', and with a date-line 'Jerusalem', (indicating where the story was filed). The report highlighted the intractable character of the conflict and the headline 'Monk dies as Intifada drags on' closely reflected a tragic story. The label, 'Israel', is not, as the complainants suggest, a headline nor is it a part of the story.

The editor of the Herald commented that their policy is "to label all stories on our foreign pages … for ease of navigation". Both this report and that which was the subject of the earlier adjudication were filed from Jerusalem. To that extent the identifier 'Israel' does serve to guide the reader to the source of the story.

The Press Council does not uphold the complainants' assertion that 'Israel' was used as a headline. Labels of this kind are not headlines. Nor does the Press Council accept that a label used in this way would give substance to "Israel's propaganda that the area (the West Bank) is part of Israel".

The Press Council, nevertheless, again notes the political and diplomatic sensitivities involved in covering reports from this area of conflict. Against this background the Press Council encourages editors to use exact terms where possible.

The Press Council does not uphold the complaint of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign.