EMMA KAHU AGAINST THE TARANAKI DAILY NEWS
Case Number: 3264
Council Meeting: MAY 2022
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: Taranaki Daily News
Balance, Lack Of
Conflict of Interest
Tragedies, Offensive Handling of
The Taranaki Daily News ran a report on May 10, 2022, headlined Driver in fatal Waitara River crash to be farewelled. The story reported police were yet to release her name, but a death notice confirmed the name of the victim, whose name was published together with information from online tributes.
Emma Kahu complained that the name had been published despite a request from the family. The family’s privacy had not been respected and the publication had used information not obtained via publicly available sources.
She also complained inaccuracies were not corrected when pointed out to the editor and there had been a complete disregard to the victim’s family, who had been treated unethically at a very difficult time of mourning.
The Media Council can understand the trauma and grief that families go through at such times. Its privacy principle says publications should give special consideration to those suffering from trauma and grief.
But it also says that the right of privacy should not interfere with publication of significant matters of public record or public interest.
The reporting of deaths and how they occur are a matter of public interest. While the police had not released the victim’s name it was publicly available in the publication’s own death notices. In the circumstances there was no breach of privacy, or unreasonable failure to consider the family’s trauma and grief.
The Media Council received no information to support claims that the article had inaccuracies that were not corrected or that victim’s family were treated unethically.
There were insufficient grounds to proceed.