SHAUN REILLY AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 2751

Council Meeting: FEBRUARY 2019

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Misleading
Misrepresentation, Deception or Subterfuge

Overview

CASE NO: 2751

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF SHAUN REILLY AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

FINDING: NO GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: FEBRUARY 2019

On December 20, 2019 the New Zealand Herald published a long form articleThe desolation of Kaikohe which featured the background to a manslaughter conviction that followed a road rage incident.

The article included comments from the presiding judge, national and local body politicians and family members and looked at the role that growing up in Kaikohe might have played in the incident. Statistics on crime, unemployment and education were included, all of which supported the claim that in 2013 Kaikohe had “the worst deprivation index for the Far North, which in itself was high in national rankings”.

Shaun Reilly complains that the article was irresponsible, derogatory and grossly misleading. When complaining to theHerald Mr Reilly offered a piece for publication giving a different view of Kaikohe, which theHerald had not published. Neither did the Herald reply to Mr Reilly or respond to his complaint.

The Media Council has studied the complaint and the enclosures Mr Reilly sent. It notes that theHerald was under no obligation to publish Mr Reilly’s alternative piece, but it is very disappointing that his complaint and offering were not responded to in any way. That it came in over the Christmas / New Year period may offer some explanation.

The Desolation of Kaikohe looks to be a well-constructed story about the characters caught up in a tragic crime in a deprived small town. The bulk of the story focuses on the death of Chris Vujcich and his assailant Patrick Tarawa and it then goes on to look Kaikohe itself. Numerous people, including prominent local politicians, were reported commenting on its depressing plight.

The article does indeed portray Kaikohe in a bad light but journalism properly has a history of shining a light in areas where attention is required to effect change. There is no evidence that any of the dismal statistics quoted were in any way inaccurate.

There is a place for strong pieces such as this.

Finding: No grounds to proceed.