DANIEL MCGIMPSEY AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 3128

Council Meeting: OCTOBER 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Ruling Categories: Balance, Lack Of
Comment and Fact
Conflict of Interest
Discrimination
Headlines and Captions
Readers Comments
Unfair Coverage

Overview

CASE NO: 3128

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF DANIEL MCGIMPSEY AGAINST THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD

FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: OCTOBER 2021

 

The New Zealand Herald published an article on October 14, 2021 headlined Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Thames-Coromandel Mayor’s vaccine remarks ‘appalling stuff’, councillor says. The story reported reaction to Mayor Sandra Goudie’s refusal to get the Pfizer vaccine and a call for her to resign.

Daniel McGimpsey complained of the media behaviour of vilifying people who wanted to make their own choice about the Covid-19 vaccine. It was part of broader behaviour by the Herald which engaged in highly controversial and inflammatory topics and then shut down comments sections. In his opinion this was more akin to propaganda in a totalitarian state than the free unbiased media operating in a democratic state that New Zealand deserves.

His particular concern was that while the story was posted on Facebook, the comments section was blocked.

He believed the Herald breached the Media Council principles relating to fairness and balance, comment and fact, conflicts of interest, discrimination and diversity and headlines and captions.

The Media Council sees no ground for complaint about reporting in the article.  It reports the Mayor saying that she would not get the Pfizer vaccine as well as criticism from one of her councillors.

 This was straight forward report of the mayor’s decision not to have the Pfizer vaccine, which was likely to provoke a strong public reaction and stir debate.  It reported the public response of a councillor who was very critical of her position.  It was an ongoing story and opinions did not need to be balanced.  The Mayor herself was refusing to explain her position, except to say it was her right to choose. There was no proven inaccuracy, and given the massive media coverage of the vaccination issue, no lack of balance.

The Herald’s decision to shut down on-line comment is a matter for editorial discretion, just as an editor has the right to run or reject letters to the editor.  Editors often close correspondence on subjects where the arguments become repetitive, abusive, offensive, inflammatory or defamatory. The same policies can be adopted with on-line comment about stories that are likely to provoke streams of intemperate remarks.

There were insufficient grounds to proceed

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