NEIL SMITH AGAINST STUFF
Case Number: 3385
Council Meeting: MARCH 2023
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Principle: Comment and Fact
Comment and Fact
Taste Lack of
Tragedies, Offensive Handling of
On 4 March 2023 Stuff published a story about the Hawke’s Bay floods headed Cyclone Gabrielle: How do you get back up when you've lost everything? The lengthy piece talked to local residents about their experience of the disaster and the clean-up. The story quoted an orchardist who, when describing the damage to his property, said: “What you see here is fucked. Our livelihood is fucked."
Neil Smith complained that he found the language offensive. Stuff replied that they occasionally used swear words in their reporting when they added emphasis. In this case it was necessary to report the man’s words in full as censoring them would detract from the reality of the situation. The words were in the body of the story and not in a headline. There had been a softening of attitudes to the use of the word "fuck” over time, Stuff said.
The Media Council notes that while still offensive to some people, the word is not used gratuitously or given undue emphasis in the story. In this case it was legitimate to use it to illustrate the despair and intensity of feeling of the person interviewed for the story. No principles are breached.
Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.