NEILL GORDON AGAINST HAWKE’S BAY TODAY
Case Number: 3446
Council Meeting: 30 October 2023
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: Hawke's Bay Today
Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Editorial Discretion / Freedom
Te Reo and reporting on Te Ao Maori
Neill Gordon complained that Hawke’s Bay Today did not run a news story on a public meeting in Hastings that he helped to organise as a counter to a Stop Co-Governance meeting which was spreading “misinformation and fear mongering.”
While the paper published a preview of the meeting that he helped to organise, it did not do a subsequent news report of it, while it had published at least six stories in preceding weeks about the Stop Co-Governance tour.
Mr Gordon said that on the morning after his meeting he sent photos and a press release outlining the attendance, what was said, and that it was trouble-free. The editor declined to publish this, saying the events of the meeting didn’t quite meet the threshold for publication as a news item and invited Mr Gordon to resubmit the release as a Talking Point opinion piece which was published on the following Saturday’s paper.
Despite this, Mr Gordon argued that the meeting did have news value. While it lacked the drama of protest and argy-bargy, managing to hold a cool-headed public meeting on co-governance was newsworthy. The fact it drew 200 people showed there was clear public interest.
The Media Council has always held that it is an editor’s prerogative to decide what they publish. It is not the Council’s role to second-guess editorial judgement calls.
In any case the complaint appears to be moot. The paper publishing a substantial and well-written piece submitted by Mr Gordon on the following Saturday (23 September 2023). This no doubt covered key points made at the meeting and may have given it more prominence than might have been expected if it had been treated as a news item.
Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.