GREG RZESNIOWIECKI AGAINST MEDIAWORKS
Case Number: 2735
Council Meeting: DECEMBER 2018
Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed
Balance, Lack Of
Comment and Fact
Conflict of Interest
CASE NO: 2735
RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF GREG RZESNIOWIECKI AGAINST MEDIAWORKS NEWSHUB
FINDING: NO GROUNDS TO PROCEED
DATE: DECEMBER 2018
Greg Rzesniowiecki complained that an online video from the AM Show, Tova O’Brien tackles 1080 and taxpayer travel rorts , published on November 7, 2018 breached several Media Council principles.
The video in question features a report from Tova O’Brien, Newshub’s political editor, in conversation with Duncan Garner.
Ms O’Brien reported that the Prime Minister had released information that she had received death threats for anti-1080 protestor. She also reported that the Minister of Conservation had, the previous day, advised the department was increasing its surveillance and security following an increase of incidents against its staff – up from 5 in January to 93 in October. Incidents such as wheel nuts being loosened on DoC vehicles, helicopters being shot at, wires being strung across valleys to try to bring down helicopters and comment on the DoC Facebook page such as “I’ll slaughter the skin of the faces of all you DoC workers” were reported. Ms O’Brien noted that these were the work of out-of-control fringe elements in the movement, but were extremely concerning.
Mr Garner responded with comments - “lock ‘em up”, “they are anarchists” and “Send in Willie Apiata in camo gear one night and they will never breathe again”.
Mr Rzesniowiecki complains that such comments invoke violence against people who may be 1080 opponents; the report gives no indication of the numbers involved in the fringe activities; that Duncan Garner should issue an apology to Willie Apiata; that Newshub should institute a code of conduct that prevents its staff from invoking hatred, aggression or harassment, belittlement, ridicule or otherwise bully any section of the community. He says the article should be balanced by a piece giving the anti-1080 perspective.
The Media Council considers Mr Rzesniowiecki’s complaint to be considerably overdrawn. Tova O'Brien's piece was a fairly straight report on the increasing number of threats against DoC staff linked to the anti-1080 campaign. This was bracketed by comment by Duncan Garner before and after crossing to her live on air where he referred to thugs targeting the PM as idiots and made the flippant remark about sending in Willie Apiata. These remarks were clearly opinion and unexceptional in this sort of personality anchored TV morning news and chat show.
The Media Council has previously recorded that the 1080 debate falls into the category of long-running issue where the requirement for balance in each article no longer applies.This story was current, newsworthy and it is clearly in the public interest that this information should be made public.
The story made it clear that the reported activities were those of an out-of-control fringe and it did not impugn all anti-1080 protestors.
The Media Council finds there is no likelihood of this complaint succeeding and does not accept it for processing.
No Grounds to Proceed.