Case Number: 637

Council Meeting: DECEMBER 1996

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Daily Post

A review of a stage show published in Rotorua”s Daily Post and headlined “Manpower Men A Hard Act To Follow” prompted a complaint to the New Zealand Press Council. The general grounds were that it was offensive. The complaint was not

Mrs Michelle McBride said in her complaint she found the article offensive, it was degrading (to men), the heading was insulting, the editor should not have sent a young female reporter to cover the show, the editor was sexist and the reporter’s excitement and enthusiasm was unprofessional and immature.

The editor Robin Mayston denied sexist behaviour saying that journalists were treated equally regardless of gender. He wrote to Mrs McBride disagreeing with her sentiments and said that it was clear many others shared those views, the evidence being the patronage such shows drew. In his response to the Press Council, Mr Mayston said the article was a by-lined review, in lighter vein, which he was assured by the writer and others in attendance, accurately reflected the mood of the show. “Not one other complaint, or even criticism of the review was received, formally or by telephone.”

The Council found that while Mrs McBride was entitled to her views, it was those of the general readership an editor must satisfy. There was evidence to suggest that the readership and general public did not find the article offensive, degrading, nor the headline to be insulting. The most compelling evidence was the success of the show drawing an audience of up to 400 grandmothers, mothers and daughters.

Regarding the decision of the editor to send the reporter he did, the reporter’s age (provided she was not a minor) was irrelevant and furthermore a male reporter joining an all female audience might not have been appropriate. While this review might appeal to the readership a similar review of a female show might not. Editors try to get this kind of judgment right many times a day.

The article appeared to be accurate and to reflect the enthusiasm and excitement of the audience and there was no evidenece of unprofessional work nor immaturity from the journalist.

The Council declined to uphold the complaint.