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

Overview

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.

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