JOHANNES LINDEMAN AGAINST TAUPO TIMES
Case Number: 3069
Council Meeting: JULY 2021
Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: Taupo Times
Letters to the Editor, Closure, Non-Publication
Te Reo and reporting on Te Ao Maori
Johannes Lindeman complained that the editor of the Taupō Times did not publish a letter, or take up his request to submit an opinion piece, disagreeing with an opinion piece that appeared in the publication on 2 July 2021, entitledWho’s afraid of the ‘A’ word.
The editor replied that the Taupō Times had not run letters to the editor for several years, and commented that Mr Lindeman’s views were “racist and factually wrong”.
Mr Lindeman’s view was that it was the moral duty of the editor to publish opposing views. The policy of not publishing letters shut out the legitimate opinions of a large section of the community, he said.
Mr Lindeman complained under Principle 1: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance, but as the article Mr Lindemann was concerned about was clearly an opinion piece there was no requirement for balance, so the Council considers the complaint better dealt with under Principle 5: Columns, Blogs, Opinion and Letters.
The Principle states in part: “Letters for publication are the prerogative of editors who are to be guided by fairness, balance, and public interest.” While many publications run letters to the editor, which gives readers the chance to reply to published content, there is no obligation to offer this service. The decision to publish letters is a matter of editorial discretion, as is the content of the op-ed pages, and in this case the editor was within his rights to decline to publish.
No Principles have been breached.
Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.