Case Number: 3317

Council Meeting: OCTOBER 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Te Awamutu News

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Comment and Fact
Headlines and Captions
Conflicts of Interest

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Social Media
Disinformation, Misinformation


  1. This complaint relates to Facebook posts and stories published by the Cambridge News in the lead up to the 2022 local body elections.

  2. The first complaint relates to a Facebook post on September 9 reporting that Waipa District Councillor Philip Coles had told a meeting that he had secured land from a local school for a bridge and that the school and mayor were furious and demanding a retraction.

  3. Brenda Stamp complained this was grossly inaccurate and misleading reporting. No reporter had been present at the meeting referred to and it appeared the article was written purely on hearsay.

  4. The Facebook post was followed by an article published on September 14 headlined: A bridge too far for Coles? in which Councillor Coles apologised at a public meeting for what he described as a misunderstanding over comments he had previously made about securing the land.

  5. Cambridge News editor Roy Pilott responded to the complaint saying the reporting of Mr Coles comments was not inaccurate, biased, or misleading.

  6. Her second complaint was about an article headlined: Promises, promises which reported a briefing of council candidates by Waipa District Council chief executive. It said his opening of the books showed councillors might not be able to make good on election promises that involved significant spending.

  7. The complainant said the statement that the chief executive had briefed council candidates appeared to be a complete fabrication. She said the article pointed at one mayoral candidate and what he was campaigning on. It was scaremongering and no proof was offered that the chief executive was interviewed by the reporter.

  8. Mr Pilott responded that the reporter watched the meeting, read the material presented and interviewed the chief executive.

  9. He also denied the claim that the Cambridge News had attacked Ms Stamp. He did not believe the fact that the time and venue of an interview was not included in a story provided grounds for claiming it had published inaccurate, biased and misleading copy.

  10. The Media Council considers there is no substance to this complaint. We see straightforward reporting of a local body election, and no evidence to show how the reporting was inaccurate or unbalanced.

Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.


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