Case Number: 3451

Council Meeting: 30 OCTOBER 2023

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Discrimination and Diversity

Ruling Categories: Bias

The NZ Herald published two articles on 10 October 2023 on the Israel-Hamas conflict. The first was an opinion piece by a lecturer in Defence Studies under the headline Israel-Hamas war: Hamas achieved terror, escalation, and disruption to the international order. This is an analysis of the tactics and motivation underlying the Hamas attack on Israel which the author described as the essence of terrorism. The group’s mass incursions, which had seen its operatives storming Israeli towns, killing and kidnapping hundreds, appear to have been done by the book when it comes to creating feelings of terror and escalating the situation.

The second article was headlined Israel-Hamas war: Grandmother killed. Hamas uses her phone to post to Facebook. This story led with the comment of an Israeli woman whose grandmother was killed in the Hamas attack on her home in a kibbutz near Gaza and how she received the news through a chilling social media post. Further on the story reported other elements of the war, which at that stage had seen the death of hundreds of Israelis and similar numbers of Palestinians.

Faizal Ansari complained the articles were not balanced or accurate as they did not take into account the full context.

“They are showing only one side of the story and portraying a very selected narrative. They are showing Israelis to be the victims and Palestinians as the perpetuators and setting a false narrative. I expect them to be fair and not put forth Israeli propaganda.”

He urged the NZ Herald to remove these articles, refrain from publishing any more propaganda that may mislead the public and provide a balanced viewpoint by highlighting the Palestinian struggle, oppression and human rights violations for which Israel is responsible. He also called for the NZ Herald to publish articles about Palestinian casualties and deaths and apologise for their historical one-sided narrative on Palestine.

The NZ Herald responded saying it made no apologies for reporting the atrocities committed by Hamas militants that weekend.

However, it was equally committed to reporting on the casualties inflicted by Israel’s response.

It referred to the Media Council’s Principle (1) Accuracy, Fairness and Balance, which says balance is not required for every article in a long-running issue and that it can be judged on a number of stories.

“Our position is that it is unrealistic to expect every article to summarise a dispute that has spanned more than 70 years. That said, we have published several articles in the past few days explaining and contextualising the Palestinian perspective and the history of the dispute and will continue to do so.”

The Media Council notes the two stories complained of were published shortly after the initial Hamas attack. In that context it is understandable they were focussed as they were – to give readers an understanding of what Hamas was aiming to achieve and the effects of the attack on those who suffered.

Many more stories have since been published in the NZ Herald on the death of thousands of Palestinians, many of whom were children or other non-combatants. Some of their personal stories have also been widely reported.

It is not possible for the Media Council to judge the accuracy, fairness and balance of coverage of such a fast-moving military conflict and all its historic roots on the basis of just two of the many stories that have now been published on this war. There is a requirement to provide balance over time and we have no evidence that has not been provided.  

This conflict has been the most significant and widely covered international news story since the Hamas attack began and it appeared that news agencies relied on by most New Zealand media were striving to provide balanced and fair coverage of the war. Notably the focus of much reporting switched to the suffering of people in Gaza where the conflict and resulting humanitarian crisis was concentrated.

Decision: There are insufficient grounds to proceed.


Lodge a new Complaint.



Search for previous Rulings.

New Zealand Media Council

© 2024 New Zealand Media Council.
Website development by Fueldesign.