URSULA EDGINGTON AGAINST WANGANUI CHRONICLE

Case Number: 2703

Council Meeting: AUGUST 2018

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Wanganui Chronicle

Ruling Categories: Accuracy

Overview

CASE NO: 2703

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF URSULA EDGINGTON AGAINST WANGANUI CHRONICLE

FINDING: NO GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: AUGUST 2018

Ursula Edgington complained that an article Death threats to staff at Orillion 1080 facility in WhanganuiPublished in the Wanganui Chronicle on August 15, 2018 was “fake news that must come to an end in New Zealand”.

The article outlined a staff member’s concerns for his safety, and that of his family, after staff received death threats by opponents of 1080. It also reported that regular protests took place outside the security fence surrounding the facility.

The article briefly outlined the production, storage and use of 1080, but was largely a local issue story on the particular facility.

Dr Edgington sets out to challenge almost every sentence of the article from the perspective of a deeply committed anti-1080 campaigner. The complaint has no regard to the fact that others may have a different perspective on the subject or might be legitimately fearful that campaigners may pose a threat.

It is a broad attack on the use of 1080 rather than a complaint relating to journalistic principles which the Media Council was set up to adjudicate on.

The pros and cons of 1080 have been widely debated for many years and are the subject of complex scientific argument. The Media Council does not have the expertise or mandate to serve as a referee in such debates and, as in Case 2079, saysReaders wanting to investigate the veracity of the claims and counter-claims about 1080 would be wise to read widely on the issue.

We also note that this is a local take on a broader topic and in a long-running issue, such as the pros and cons of 1080 use, the balance exception applies -Exceptions may apply for long-running issues where every side of an issue or argument cannot reasonably be repeated on every occasion.

Finding: No Grounds to proceed.