ALPHA MAHAMAHA AGAINST NEWSHUB
Case Number: 3145
Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2021
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Ruling Categories: Misleading
CASE NO: 3145
RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF ALPHA MAHAMAHA AGAINST NEWSHUB
FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED
DATE: NOVEMBER 2021
On October 29 Newshub ran an item headlined Tongan PM urges Tongatapu to prepare for lockdown after Christchurch arrival tests positive in MIQ.
Alpha Mahamaha complained the story was misleading and incomplete as it had not reported the virus appeared to have been in Christchurch well before the flight left for Tonga. This misled readers into believing there was something suspicious about the Tongan Government’s report of its first Covid-19 case. As a result, Tongan social media accused the Government of lying in an attempt to influence the upcoming general election.
The Media Council saw this as a straightforward brief report of a breaking news item about the Tongan case. Newshub is not at fault if some people misconstrued it. It also had no control of, or responsibility for, the social media commentary that ensued. The word “suspicious”, used only in the video accompanying the story, was not making any accusations against government, but rather referring to the possible causes of the infection.
There were insufficient grounds to proceed.