MARK PEART AGAINST RNZ

Case Number: 3285

Council Meeting: JULY 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Radio NZ

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Photographs and Graphics

Ruling Categories: Damaging To Reputation
Readers Comments
Taste Lack of

Overview

On 24 April 2022, the RNZ website carried a story about the reaction of Bluff locals to the death of four teenagers in a vehicle crash in Invercargill. Mark Peart complained that the story was accompanied by a photograph of a local takeaway shop owner, who was “smiling brightly” for the camera, he said. Her comments were sympathetic, but her smile could lead people to infer that she was taking a positive view of events, which in Peart’s view was not the case. The photographer should have produced an image which was more “in sync” with the story, he said.

RNZ disagreed that the woman in question looked cheerful, saying her expression could be one of nervousness, or pride at being photographed outside her business.

Peart complained under Principle 1: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance, and Principle 11: Photographs and Graphics, which states in part, “Editors should take care in photographic and image selection and treatment.” The Council believes that the woman’s facial expression could be one of embarrassment at being photographed and was not necessarily gleeful as Peart suggests, and the tone of the article and the sympathetic comments expressed would ensure that any reader would know that she was upset about the event. No principles have been breached.

There are insufficient grounds to proceed.

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