MR D.WITHEROW AGAINST THE OTAGO DAILY TIMES

Case Number: 630

Council Meeting: OCTOBER 1996

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Otago Daily Times

The Press Council has not upheld a complaint against the Otago Daily Times by Mr D.Witherow concerning non-publication of a letter to the editor and allegations of bias.

The Mayor of Dunedin, Mrs Sukhi Turner, made comments about the Dunedin City Council Chief Executive, Mr Murray Douglas’s, level of remuneration. These comments were reported in the newspaper. Mr Douglas then issued a statement which the Otago Daily Times ran in full.

Mr Witherow wrote a letter to the editor supporting the Mayor’s opinion. His letter also referred to the growing gap between rich and poor.

Mr Geoff Adams, editor of the Otago Daily Times, wrote declining to publish Mr Witherow’s letter.

Two letters in a similar vein to Mr Witherow’s unpublished letter appeared. One was abridged and the other had a reply from Mr Douglas attached. A columnist in the newspaper made two mentions of the issue.

Both sides of the issue were aired and the Council is of the opinion that the Otago Daily Times did not present an overly biased view of the issue.

Mr Witherow’s letter showed his depth of feeling about the issue. However it is has been long established that an editor has wide discretion as to which letters are published and in this instance the editor acted within his powers. The Council did not uphold the complaint.