JESSICA THOMPSON AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 3020

Council Meeting: APRIL 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Columnists
Suicide Reports

Overview

On 9 March 2021 the New Zealand Herald published an opinion piece syndicated fromthe Daily Telegraph UK by Celia Walden about Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. The opinion piece cast doubt upon the sincerity of the Duchess’s statements and said she deserved to be nominated for an Oscar for her performance during the interview.

Jessica Thompson complained that less than 24 hours earlier the NZ Herald had published a story about the Duchess’s struggle with suicidal thoughts and her mental health. To imply that she was “putting on a show” was insensitive and would discourage people who were suffering from mental health issues from speaking out.

The NZ Herald replied that the article in question did not canvass mental health or suicide issues and was one of a range of stories on the subject, both positive and negative, published by theHerald. It was clearly marked as opinion and the fact that Ms Thompson did not agree with the writer was not grounds for a complaint.

The Media Council agrees that this was a legitimate opinion piece. It did not mention mental health issues, but was taking a satirical dig at a public figure, who has been the subject of a vast amount of coverage, both positive and negative. No principles were breached.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.

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