Case Number: 2489

Council Meeting: MARCH 2016

Decision: Not Upheld

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Children and Young People
Unfair Coverage


Duncan Campbell (the complainant) complained about an opinion piece published in theWeekend Herald February 20, 2016.

He alleged that the opinion piece was an advertisement for RTD’s or “alcopops” and breached Principle 1 (Accuracy, Fairness and Balance) and Principle 3 (Children and Young People)

The complaint is not upheld.


The opinion piece was headed “Vodka hit gets tick for detail and taste”” and outlined the ingredients in the product, Long White RTD, and the writers opinion of the product.

The opinion piece was part of a regular series written by Wendyl Nissen analysing what is in food and drink products.

The Complaint

The complainant alleged that in his opinion, the “article” was basically an advert for the RDT.

He believed that given the columnist is a “respected role model for mothers and family values”, her “enthusiastic endorsement” of the product had given it “an extremely positive connotation for both mothers themselves and their daughters”.

The Response

Editor Miriyana Alexander replied on behalf of the newspaper.

She stated that the opinion piece was part of a long-standing column in the newspaper that dissected the contents of food and drink items. Each week the columnist analyses different products and their contents/labelling.

Consumers are becoming more interested in the ingredients, and labelling, of products wanting to make good choices about what they consume.

This was the first time an alcohol product had been analysed as ingredient labels are not required on alcohol.

The writer had decided to examine the RDT as the maker had used a label that included ingredients despite not being required to do so.

The writer also included a message about safe and responsible consumption of alcohol in the body of the opinion piece, and noted that the RDT was consumed at her daughter’s 18th birthday party, 18 being the legal drinking age.

The editor denied any lack of accuracy, fairness and balance, and stated that Principle 3 (Children and Young People) did not apply in this case as this was not a column that was about, or targeted, children or young people.

The article was an opinion piece that analysed a particular product and was in fact part of a regular column which analysed different products each week.

The Discussion

The opinion piece was clearly written as the writer’s own opinions and contained factual information about the RDT ingredients and labelling. It also included a message about safe drinking and did not in any way encourage the consumption of alcohol by underage young people.

The column is a regular feature in the newspaper and each week analyses different products and provides the reader with the columnist’s thoughts and conclusions.

Principle 1 (Accuracy, fairness and balance) is not breached. The article contains factual information and the writer’s own opinion.

Principle 3 (Children and Young People) is not applicable to the article as it is not targeted at, nor about, children or young people.

The complaint is not upheld.

Press Council members considering the complaint were Sir John Hansen, Liz Brown, Chris Darlow, Tiumalu Peter Fa’afiu, Jenny Farrell, Sandy Gill, Marie Shroff, Vernon Small, Mark Stevens and Tim Watkin.

John Roughan took no part in the consideration of this complaint.


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