EILEEN GOODWIN AGAINST THE STAR
Case Number: 3332
Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2022
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: The Star
Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Ruling Categories: Misleading
The Star published a story on August 18, 2022, headlined Covid increases shingles risk. The story included medical advice based on a study of nearly 2 million United States cases which found people aged over 50, who had contracted Covid-19, were 15 per cent more likely to develop shingles.
Eileen Goodwin complained that the story had wrongly reported the study by saying that unvaccinated patients had a heightened risk of developing shingles as the study had specifically excluded vaccinated patients.
She said she contacted the Star to ask about the apparent discrepancy and was told to contact associate professor Helen Petousis-Harris whose advice from a press release was reported in the story.
Regions Editor Steve Hepburn told her Dr Petousis-Harris was the expert quoted. Reporters relied on experts and did not have the time or knowledge to ring up every expert they talk to and question their findings.
The Media Council has some concern at the Star’s cavalier response to this complaint. Publishers are expected to take responsibility for the accuracy of what they report. However, this story was based on what an expert said and it was not established that what she said was wrong.