Case Number: 895

Council Meeting: SEPTEMBER 2002

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Daily News

Ruling Categories: Photographs
Taste Lack of

Ted Burrows complained about a photograph published on 15 July in The Daily News. The photograph was of a man throwing a dead possum. He said the picture had disgusted the public. As evidence of his claim he pointed to letters published in The Daily News, which were critical of the picture. Mr Burrows also complained that the paper had failed to print any mention of the “Dog lovers against 1080 poison” public protest, which occurred on 17 July. The paper had been asked to cover the story but had not done so. Mr Burrows saw this as a failure to inform people about an important issue.

The editor said the paper had not created the event where the possum was thrown; it had simply reported the matter. Readers had responded with a range of views some, like Mr Burrows, did not like the picture, others has wondered what the fuss was about. The editor made the point that the organisers of the possum hunt, which ended with the throwing competition, seemed to have similar aims to the Dog lovers against 1080. The hunt had dispatched 530 possums without the use of 1080 poison. This was an unusual event, which had added to the debate on possum control.

On the matter of the 1080 protest, the editor said the overlooked event had been small and the paper had already committed its resources to covering other events. They had given the 1080 issue considerable coverage in the past and could not include every event. The editor provided 48 published letters and articles expressing a variety of views on 1080 poison (that had been published previously) and the possum picture, to support his stance.

Editors have total responsibility for selecting items for publication. In this, their readers judge them every day. There is no obligation to cover an event because they have been notified.

The Press Council does not uphold either complaint.