MR T.P.DOYER AGAINST THE WAIKATO TIMES

Case Number: 607

Council Meeting: APRIL 1996

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Waikato Times

A complaint by the president of the Hamilton branch of Grey Power against the Waikato Times has not been upheld. Mr T.P.Doyer was aggrieved that an article he submitted to the Times on behalf of the president of NZ Grey Power Jim McKenzie, was not published. Mr Doyer said the article was intended to be "informative" and a counterbalance to continuous indoctrination against the elderly by the press.

The newspaper offered space in its letters-to-the-editor column, but this was not acceptable to Mr Doyer who said it was quite impossible to air all the points made in the article in just 200 words. Mr Doyer challenged the editor to publish the article in its entirety, and if the newspaper did not wish to publish Grey Power's point of view then he sought an interview with the editor.

In a further exchange of correspondence, the editor Mr Tim Pankhurst responded that Grey Power was not being denied access to the newspaper. He pointed out that superannuation surtax had been an issue for five years -- the ground had been well covered and there was nothing new in Mr McKenzie's statement. Mr Pankhurst added that he was not going to be hectored into running an extended letter "simply because you demand it."

If this was hardly conciliatory, it did not daunt Mr Doyer who returned to the fray with his complaint to the Press Council. In his final paragraph in the complaint to the Council, Mr Doyer said Grey Power was not necessarily looking for a "who is right and who is wrong" opinion from the Council, but rather help to smooth a path to gain access for the contributions "we know we can make to a better understanding of the relationships between generations."

Mr Doyer's problem appears to be his inability to distinguish between "news" (that is new information, fresh events reported) and "publicity" (that is, the business of advertising). The editor decided the Grey Power statement submitted did not add any new material to the superannuation surtax debate, and elected not to publish it. That is his prerogative, implicit in the principle of freedom of the press. The obverse of the freedom to publish is the freedom not to publish. That is a matter of editorial judgment, and Mr Doyer has not offered any evidence to substantiate his claim that editorial judgment was misdirected in this case. The complaint is not upheld.