JO PAINE AGAINST NEWSHUB
Case Number: 3252
Council Meeting: APRIL 2022
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Balance, Lack Of
Comment and Fact
Jo Paine complained about a story published on the Newshub website on 16 March 2022 headed Where is Clarke Gayford? Jacinda Ardern laughs off conspiracy theories, reveals the answer. The story covered rumours about the Prime Minister’s fiancé and the Prime Minister’s response. The story referred to a sign held by someone “attending the violent anti-vaccine mandate protests in Wellington”.
Jo Paine said it was misleading to call the protest and protesters violent. There were no violent incidents unless incited by the police. “The media has been paid off to report a one-sided narrative for this government and it has to stop,” the complainant said. It was a lie to say the protest was violent – it was not violent for three weeks, therefore the statement was misleading.
The Discovery Standards Committee rejected the complaint, saying the focus of the article was the rumours not the protest. Newshub had reported extensively on the protests. “Considering the range of events that took place over the 23-day occupation at Parliament, including many violent incidents, the Committee is satisfied that the audience was not misled by broadly characterising the protest as violent.”
The Media Council believes that the use of the word violent was not inaccurate. While many aspects of the protest were peaceful, violent behaviour was reported, and the end of the protest was notably violent. Violence was therefore a significant feature of the protests and it is not inaccurate to use the word to describe them. Because of the widespread coverage of the event, readers and viewers were shown elements of the protests that were not violent, providing balancing context to what was a broad-brush description of the event in a story that was primarily focused on another matter.
No principles were breached.
Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.