ANNA GOODWIN AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 3184

Council Meeting: JANUARY 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Bias

Overview

CASE NO: 3184

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL OF THE COMPLAINT OF ANNA GOODWIN AGAINST THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD

FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: JANUARY 2022

 

The New Zealand Herald published an article on October 10, 2021, headlined Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Epidemiologist is calling for Prime Minister to mandate vaccinations.

The article reported University of Auckland epidemiologist Rod Jackson saying he was “freaking out in a major way” about the possible spread of Covid-19 into Northland and that “we are well and truly in the poo if we don’t keep it down and keep it suppressed before we get high vaccination rates.”

Anna Goodwin complains that the article was “fear porn” and “swill”, an embarrassment for the country and an attempt to make people afraid of a common cold virus. Professor Jackson’s comments were irresponsible, misinformed, endangered the public and were not unlike yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theatre.

Dr Goodwin also said the Herald and other media had forsaken their duties to the 4th estate by printing one-sided, biased stories that misinformed the public and promoted “hatred for anyone who is not embracing the corporate fascist fear porn than you seem to promote on behalf of Pfizer, Vanguard and Blackrock and any other corporate that flicks a few dollars around.”

The Herald responded that Professor Jackson was qualified to speak about the pandemic. His comments fell well short of hysteria and propaganda and did not endanger public safety. The article also reported comment by the Prime Minister, the Health Minister, a modeller, an immunologist and another epidemiologist.

 “While you may not agree with Prof Jackson’s point of view this is not grounds for a formal complaint – the test is whether he was quoted accurately, which he was.

“You are entitled to your claim that the ‘vaccine is more dangerous than Covid-19’ and you are correct the Herald has not reported such a belief - because frankly it is nonsense and not supported by any research.

“Your scepticism of the academic credentials of nearly all of New Zealand’s leading experts is noted, as is your claim they are corrupt (as is the media), but the article does not canvas any of these issues.

“Accordingly your complaint is rejected in its entirety,” the Herald said.

The Media Council agrees with the points made in the Herald’s response to Dr Goodwin’s complaint.

The expressions used by Professor Jackson may be alarmist and colloquial, but so are many views quoted in the media.  As always, the Media Council is not qualified to engage in the merits of the debate, and does not do so.

Dr Goodwin has not established that the article breached any Media Council principles.

There were insufficient grounds to proceed.

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