ATUNAISA VARANI AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD
Case Number: 3181
Council Meeting: DECEMBER 2021
Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: New Zealand Herald
Ruling Categories: Photographs
CASE NO: 3181
RULING OF THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF ATUNAISA VARANI AGAINST THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD
FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED
DATE: DECEMBER 2021
The New Zealand Herald posted an item on Facebook on November 22, 2021, headlined The P scourge and what Health Minister Little will do about it – eventually. Another article was published on Facebook on December 15, 2021, headlined Meth dealing former teacher hits ‘rock bottom’. Both articles used what appeared to be stock images of people smoking substances from glass pipes.
Atunaisa Varani complained that the images were triggering to people recovering from addiction to methamphetamine and people who might be trying to keep those thoughts from their mind. There was no reason to post images which could lead to someone returning to a life-ruining habit.
The Media Council cannot sustain this complaint as none of its principles prohibit the publication of images to tell a story, even if they show an illegal activity, such as consuming meth, smoking a joint, meeting illegally in breach of lockdown restrictions, robbing shops or driving dangerously. Images of people behaving badly are commonly used in news stories. There might be occasions where such images appear to be aimed at encouraging law breaking and life-endangering actions, but these do not come close to crossing that line.
There were insufficient grounds to proceed.