H MACZUGA AGAINST THE EVENING POSTA photograph of a gridiron player smoking a cigarette at half time in a match played in Wellington, led to a complaint to the New Zealand Press Council against the Evening Post. The photograph was in the paper’s first edition on 16 February. Later editions carried an action shot of the match played between teams from Auckland and Wellington. The complaint was not upheld.
Mr Horst Maczuga, Commissioner of the American Football Southern Conference originally complained to the newspaper questioning the motives of the photographer who had taken the shot and of the newspaper in using it when action shots of the game were available. He maintained that the player was out of view from most of the public, in the players’ dugout, and that an action shot should have been used.
The assistant editor of the newspaper told the Council the photograph was chosen because it was striking and unusual and illuminated a different aspect of a sports event to that which sports readers were accustomed to seeing. When photographers attended sports events they looked for photographs wherever they could find them and this was not always on the field of play.
The Council notes Mr Maczuga did not exercise his right of reply to the newspaper’s response. While the photograph was not flattering to the sport of American football, it was not contrived. The event happened and the editor chose to use the photograph and this was within editorial discretion. The complaint is not upheld.