Case Number: 3406

Council Meeting: June 2023

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Headlines and Captions

Ruling Categories:

Stuff published an article on 13 June 2023 headlined Parents frustrated over teachers strike, ‘total nightmare’ school year.

The article led with parents being frustrated that the teachers’ strike action was affecting their teenagers’ education. It included comment from two parents, related comment from the PPTA’s acting president, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Education and a senior lecturer in education.

Ben Uy complained that the headline on this and other stories about the teachers’ strikes were acting as clickbait rather than giving an accurate representation of what the article was about. They painted teachers in an antagonistic light, especially for readers who did not go past the headlines.

The way it was written made it appear the majority of parents were against the strike action even though many had voiced support for teachers. It was irresponsible at best and biased against teachers at worst. Coverage had not given much voice to parents and students who supported teachers. It also had not given ongoing coverage of teacher perspectives.

Stuff responded saying it had covered the strikes for months and during that time it had reported a wide range of perspectives.

 It defended the headline on the story which sparked the complaint, saying it was a direct quote and the honestly held experience of the family spoken to in relation to the strike. It added that headlines were not designed to summarise the entire content of a story and must be read in conjunction with the story.

The Media Council notes this is a long-running issue and the article was expressed in moderate language and quoted opinions on the strike. It did not state that a majority of parents were against the strike but it reported the obvious, that some parents were frustrated.  Support for teachers was reported and coverage of the dispute was balanced over time.

The headline fairly conveyed a key element of the story, but had to be read in conjunction with the story it ran with. While it may not have covered all the detailed points the complainant sought, it was not shown to be inaccurate, unfair or unbalanced.

Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.


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