Case Number: 2998

Council Meeting: FEBRUARY 2021

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Photographs
Tragedies, Offensive Handling of


On January 16, 2021 the New Zealand Herald published The wind is returning tomorrow for America Cup racing but spectators can expect rain. The article relayed the forecast weather conditions for the following day’s racing. Immediately under the headline was a large photo of fans of American Magic on a supporters’ boat. Centre stage was a man wearing apparel similar to one of the Capitol insurgents including a bare chest, fur and a horned helmet.

Amanda Wilby said she was deeply disturbed that the Herald would show a photograph of someone dressed as a MAGA rioter from Capitol Hill where five people lost their lives to illustrate an article that discussed the weather for the Prada Cup.

She failed to see how the Herald could deem this appropriate. ‘The horned man’ had been a widely publicized rioter from the horrific event and here was some fool using that as comedy aboard a boat. How was this being a supporter of American Magic exactly?

“Could you for a moment imagine a group of people on a boat supporting Team UK dressed as viruses and dead people (re Covid-19) or perhaps a boat of Emirates Team NZ supporters dressed as the Christchurch mosque murderer. I’m quite sure you would not publish that at all” she said.

The Media Council understands that Ms Wilby was offended by the photograph in question given the context. However it does not think that publication of the photograph oversteps the mark.

The action of the dressed up spectator was in poor taste as it appeared to celebrate a notorious and unlawful act. However the foolish invader (who now regrets his incursion) was no Hitler, and the photograph shows that the fancy dressed observer was himself rather foolish, for dressing as an unmeritorious person who had broken the law and thought he was smart. His image was not going to cause extreme grief or any other reaction than “this spectator was an idiot”. TheHerald had no duty to protect him and its readers from that judgment.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed


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