MORGAN MAULDER AGAINST STUFF

Case Number: 3291

Council Meeting: JULY 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Privacy

Ruling Categories: Apology and Correction Sought
Misrepresentation
Tragedies, Offensive Handling of

Overview

Stuff published a story on its website on 29 June 2022 headlined Murder-suicide couple ‘victims of mental health stigma’, coroner finds. It covered the deaths of a Hawke’s Bay couple and the mental health problems that preceded the deaths.

A member of the couple’s family complained about the story, saying it had been a very “emotionally exhausting” five years since the deaths and to bring it up again was cruel. The person named in the story had not killed his wife, and the story had no empathy or compassion.

Stuff replied, expressing their condolences to the family, and saying they understood the release of the coroner’s report could be upsetting. However, media routinely reported on coroners’ findings, particularly when people were well known in their community, as this couple was. Stuff had reported on their deaths before and therefore the findings were of public interest. The report was a factual and accurate account of the findings of the coroner.

While the Council understands that further publicity about this tragic event would be hard for the family, reporting coroners’ findings is an important part of the media’s role. The coroner’s findings seem to have been reported accurately. If the family had an alternative view they could have put it, as they had been invited to comment, but they chose not to. The article was appropriate reporting of a matter of public interest. No principles were breached.

Decision: There are insufficient grounds to proceed.

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