Case Number: 2658

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Tragedies, Offensive Handling of
Unfair Coverage

The Complaint

Marina Kapua complained about a Stuff article Woman found dead in car on Wellington Street had been to a house party hours before, published on February 13.

The article noted that police were investigating the death of Zenith (Zena) Campbell, a death the police were treating as “unexplained at this stage”. The detective senior sergeant in charge of the case was quoted on the scene examination and known whereabouts of the deceased the previous evening.

It also noted the deceased had previously pleaded guilty to three charges of arson.

Ms Kapua complained that the article breached the Principles relating to Accuracy, fairness and balance; and discrimination and diversity.

She said it lacked empathy in the language used to refer to the deceased; naming her variously as Zenith, Zena, Campbell, a woman and the deceased even though it noted that her preferred name was Zena; and brought up the previous charges that had no relevance to the matter at hand.

The complaint was given preliminary consideration by a Press Council Committee who saw it as having no grounds to proceed.

The Stuff article was a straight forward report and, if anything, it seems to have been handled carefully given the victim's recent gender switch from male to female. At first mention the victims is named as Zenith (Zena) Campbell, which gives an official first name and preference for the use of Zena, a woman's name, which the detective used in the two quotes reported in the article. The headline also referred to the victim as a woman but beyond that the article gave no indication of the victim's sex.

Stuff's use of surname only after first reference is common news style and mention of a previous conviction for arson is a matter of public record. The article is not inaccurate or unbalanced. There is no gratuitous reference to gender.

Ruling: No Grounds to Proceed.

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