BRIAN MAIN AGAINST WAIKATO TIMES

Case Number: 3176

Council Meeting: DECEMBER 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Waikato Times

Ruling Categories: Balance, Lack Of
Discrimination
Letters to the Editor, Closure, Non-Publication
Politicians
Unfair Coverage

Overview

CASE NO: 3176

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF BRIAN MAIN AGAINST THE WAIKATO TIMES

FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: DECEMBER 2021

The Waikato Times ran an article on November 30, 2021, headlined City Councillor votes against use of vaccine pass to enter council facilities.

The article led off with comment by city councillor Ryan Hamilton who voted against a council motion to require the use of vaccine passes to enter council facilities.

Mr Main said the article vilified the councillor and it was outrageous for the report to focus on him rather than celebrate the almost unanimous council decision to adopt the measure.

Stuff Chief News Director, Waikato, Wayne Timmo said the story was an accurate report of a council meeting. He believed thorough reporting of a councillor making a decision against the tide of his peers was something readers would be interested in, and would expect coverage of, given the topicality of remedial measures to control Covid.

“Any vilifying, celebration, or debate of the merits or otherwise of a councillor’s stance is over to the reader, not the reporter in a news story,” Mr Timmo said. 

The Media Council can see nothing untoward about the reporting of the council debate. Its focus on a strong opposition voice was justifiable as it newsworthy. This did not amount to vilification of the councillor.

Mr Main also complained that his letters to the editor had been blacklisted and that the editor had told him he did not have the time to edit his letters.

Media Council principle 5 states that “letters for publication are the prerogative of editors who are to be guided by fairness, balance and public interest.”

There were insufficient grounds to proceed.

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