A complaint to the Press Council by Mr D.Robinson of Waiheke Island that an article in the Gulf News during the local body elections was not even-handed to him as a candidate, has not been upheld.

The complainant claimed that the article headed "interviews with the four city council candidates" and published while postal voting was still under way, failed to mention his name in the second part in which the issue of local drainage was discussed. He claimed that the impression created was that he had no views on [this] serious issue, or that [his] views "are of no value." The other three candidates had been given three, two and one paragraph respectively and when he had taken this up with the editor the response was that she "had run out of room."

Mr Robinson claimed that this was a blatant attempt to belittle and undermine his campaign.

In the next issue of the Gulf News, but after postal voting had concluded, the editor, Ms Liz Waters published the full text of Mr Robinson's letter of complaint to the newspaper and said that there had been no attempt or intention to belittle or undermine his campaign.

In her response to the Council, Ms Waters said that over the whole campaign, which had started on 11 August, Mr Robinson had received more space than any other candidate. The article at issue was intended to comment briefly on the personal styles of the four candidates, and that Mr Robinson's view of the sewage issue was notably imprecise. She said that the article needed to be seen in the context of the entire coverage and that the Gulf News had sought to give all candidates fair and equal coverage.

The Council found that while there had been some imprecision in the headline in that the paper did not develop what it had promised, on the whole coverage of the campaign, the Gulf News had been entirely even-handed.

The complaint is not upheld.


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