Case Number: 2719

Council Meeting: October 2018

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: The Dominion Post

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of

The Decision

Ruling by the New Zealand Media Council on the complaint of Ken Orr against The Dominion Post

Finding: No grounds to proceed

Date: October 2018

Ken Orr, Secretary of Right to Life New Zealand Inc, complained about an article in The Dominion Post on May 13, 2018 headedThe Susan Austen Interview from teacher to campaigner to unlikely criminal.

Mr Orr said the article breached Principle 1 (accuracy, fairness and balance) as Susan Austen, who was convicted of smuggling a Class C drug into New Zealand, was presented as a charming and compassionate crusader who thought she was justified in breaking the law. Ms Austen is President of the Wellington branch of pro-euthanasia group Exit International.

Mr Orr said the article lacked balance. While it included comment from supporters it did not include comment from anybody who was opposed to euthanasia.

Mr Orr said he had received no response to his complaint from the Dominion Post although the editor, Eric Janssen, said one had been sent.

Mr Janssen said the paper had extensively covered Austen’s arrest, trial and conviction. The article was a follow-up interview, a profile, which explained who she is and what motivates her. It did not sugar coat her actions or conviction.

The Media Council has no difficulty in finding there were no grounds for proceeding with this complaint.

This was not an article about the euthanasia debate. It was a profile of an advocate for the right to assisted dying, It did not require balancing comment as this was a long-running issue where the arguments for both sides have been widely published.

Finding: No grounds to proceed