K.KARVELAS AGAINST THE EVENING POST

Case Number: 659

Council Meeting: JULY 1997

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Evening Post

A complaint against the Evening Post on behalf of the Kaimanawa Horse Action Network (KHAN) by Kate Karvelas has not been upheld by the New Zealand Press Council. The complaint was over an article published on 23 April and headlined “Horse cull protest gets ugly” and accompanied by a photograph of a man facing a photographer from another newspaper. The photograph was captioned “WORKED UP - A pro-Kaimanawa horse supporter abuses and spits on Dominion newspaper photographer Don Roy yesterday.”

Kate Karvelas complained that the reporter had no evidence that the man shown was a pro-Kaimanawa horse supporter. Other points of the complaint were the use of the word “protest” to describe the event and use of the phrase “shoved and abused” in describing the event. She suggested that “genteel jostling with placards” was a more apt phrase.

In its defence the Evening Post stuck by its interpretation of events as it had reported them. The editor said staff were witnesses to the event not participants. The man who spat had stood with the pro horse group and appeared to be accompanying one of the group who was carrying a placard.

The editor also pointed to the Concise Oxford Dictionary to support its use of the word “protest” and suggested that the difference between “genteel jostling with placards “ and “shoved and abused” was in the eye of the beholder.

In rejecting the complaint the Press Council agreed that the use of the word “protest” and the phrase “shoved and abused” were appropriate for the occasion.The newspaper’s staff had reached a reasonable conclusion, on the basis of their own observations, as to which general group the man who spat at the Dominion photographer belonged. The group would have done better to write to the Post dissociating itself from the actions of the man who spat rather than condemn the paper for reporting the event. It had offered no evidence that the spitter was not a supporter of the horse action group.

Neither the editor of the Evening Post, Ms Suzanne Carty, nor the paper’s political editor, Brent Edwards, members of the Press Council, was present at the meeting when the complaint was considered.