Case Number: 729

Council Meeting: February 1999

Verdict: Upheld

Publication: Nelson Mail

A complaint by the Prostitutes’ Collective, against New Truth has been upheld by the New Zealand Press Council.

Anna Reed, the Christchurch co-ordinator of the Collective complained about an article published on 11 September headlined “Mayoral hopeful laughing stock of working girls.”

The article contained a quote attributed to Ms Reed. In her complaint to the editor and then to the Press Council, Ms Reed said she had not been interviewed and the words were not hers. Further, they were not the words of anyone else from her organisation.

The editor, in defence of the paper said the freelance reporter who had produced the story had assured him that comments attributed to Ms Reed were accurate but had come from another member of the collective who asked, as a matter of protocol, that they be attributed to the co-ordinator, Ms Reed.

By New Truth’s own account, it attributed a quote to Ms Reed that it now acknowledges was not her’s.

At best this can been seen as a foolhardy lapse likely to cause distress to the individual involved and threaten the reputation of newspapers generally. The attribution of quotes which had not been made can be regarded only as disreputable journalism and reprehensible in the extreme.

The complaint is upheld.