DAVID JENKINS AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD
Case Number: 3127
Council Meeting: OCTOBER 2021
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Tragedies, Offensive Handling of
CASE NO: 3127
RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF DAVID JENKINS AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD
FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED
DATE: OCTOBER 2021
This complaint relates to New Zealand Herald coverage of the terrorist knife attack in Auckland’s LynnMall Countdown supermarket on September 3, 2021 in which eight people were injured before the assailant was shot and killed.
David Jenkins said he was disappointed to see a flood of articles on the front page of the Herald, the publication of photos showing the perpetrator’s face and the wide use of his name. In his view this served to bring the man to notoriety and might inspire others who had been similarly radicalised.
He said he could understand that the attacker’s background and legal events surrounding the incident were of public interest. But repeatedly showing his face on the website and in the paper was an appallingly short-sighted act of exploitation and monetization of the incident.
The Media Council believes extensive media coverage was appropriate given the serious nature of the terrorist attack, the high degree of public interest and concern.
Publication of photos and other information relating to terror attacks and other traumatic events are a matter of editorial judgment. Media Council principle 11 says editors should take care in photographic and image selection and treatment. It adds that photographs showing distressing or shocking situations should be handled with special consideration for those affected.
Unless courts order their suppression the publication of photos or names of criminals and terrorists is not prohibited. However, editors usually try to anticipate public reaction when weighing up whether to publish content that might upset people. The publication of the article breached no Media Council principles.
There were insufficient grounds to proceed.