JOHN BENT AGAINST SUNDAY STAR-TIMES

Case Number: 2981

Council Meeting: DECEMBER 2020

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Sunday-Star Times

Ruling Categories: Letters to the Editor, Closure, Non-Publication

Overview

John Bent complained that his letter to the editor submitted for publication on October 25, was not published. Since he was complaining about this instance he also included a separate letter to the editor submitted on June 26 which had also not been published.

Mr Bent also complains that the editor gave no reasons for non-publication of the letters.

Mr Bent is correct that complaint about the June letter is well out-of-time for consideration. Even if presented in time it would have drawn the response from the Media Council set out below.

The Media Council no longer accepts, outright, complaints regarding letters to the editor column unless there are substantive issues beyond non-publication, abridgement and editing. This is because such complaints have over the years routinely been not upheld by the Council. Many times the Council has ruled that it is the editor’s right to determine which letters to publish, which letters to edit (provided the correspondent’s views are correctly represented) and when to draw correspondence on a particular topic to a close.

There are no circumstances that would cause the Council to reverse that decision in this case. Likewise the Council would not expect an editor to advise a letter-writer why their letter had not been published, or to enter into correspondence on the matter. There is simply not the time or resource to do this. However it could be useful if the published rules concerning letters noted that correspondence would not be entered into.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.

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