GREENPEACE (LONDON) AGAINST THE LEVIN CHRONICLE

The New Zealand Press Council has upheld a complaint against the Levin Chronicle over an article last October implicating Greenpeace (London) in a protest against Levin McDonalds last October.

The intro stated: “A breakaway environmental group threatened to dump offal and rubbish in the car park of Levin McDonald's today as part of a campaign of action against the world-wide fast food outlet.” The article also reported a Greenpeace New Zealand official as saying Greenpeace (London) was a breakaway group.

Greenpeace (London) complains that the newspaper failed to publish a denial that it had organised the protest. It faxed a letter of reply in November to the newspaper. It sent another letter by e-mail in December. It received no response.

The editor said that the first letter had been read by the chief reporter and filed without his knowing about it. He said the letter should have been acted upon. The newspaper's e-mail address was listed incorrectly on its web-site and the editor did not receive the e-mail letter. The first the editor knew about Greenpeace's unhappiness was through the Press Council complaint.

The editor correctly maintains the article did not strictly state that the group had organised the protest. But the Council believes there is a clear inference that Greenpeace (London) was behind the protest.

Part of the correspondence from the two parties to the Press Council debated the outcome of the so-called McLibel case, but the council did not believe it was material to the essential complaint – the obligation to reply and the failure to correct.

By denying Greenpeace (London) a response either through a letter or through another article, the Levin Chrnicle failed to exercise basic fairness in reporting.

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