ERIC JORDAN AGAINST STUFF
Case Number: 3372
Council Meeting: FEBRUARY 2023
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Stuff published a story on 2 January 2023 headed Whitcoulls stocks magazine peddling mosque terror attack conspiracy. It said Whitcoulls was selling New Dawn magazine, which included anti-vax conspiracies and insinuated the Christchurch mosque attack was a “false flag” operation. Kate Hannah of The Disinformation Project outlined her concerns about the content, saying it was borderline in terms of legality. Stuff sought comments from Whitcoulls but calls went unanswered.
Eric Jordan complained that news outlets and other groups in New Zealand were trying to get New Dawn magazine banned. Stuff had lied in order to stifle freedom of speech. The dissemination of information was a crucial aspect of a functioning democracy. Overseas articles had highlighted that there was a co-ordinated effort to censor alternative viewpoints in New Zealand, he said, and included a link to a story on 21st Century Wire, which examined the issue.
Stuff replied that after reviewing the complaint and the story the complainant linked to, they could not find anything that suggested Stuff had breached its ethical responsibilities. Stuff stood by its reporting on New Dawn magazine and said it would continue to report on disinformation.
The Media Council finds that this was a straightforward report on concerns about a magazine that may contain disinformation, and surprise that it was being sold by a major retailer. Opinions expressed about the magazine were attributed to the spokesperson of The Disinformation Project. There has been no inaccuracy proven. The retailer was offered the chance to defend its decision to sell the magazine and chose not to. No principles have been breached.
Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.