NELSON CITIZENS ALLIANCE AGAINST NELSON WEEKLY

Case Number: 3350

Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Comment and Fact
Columns, Blogs, Opinion and Letters
Corrections

Ruling Categories: Advertisements

Overview

  1. The Nelson Weekly ran an article on its NelsonApp website on October 5, 2022, headlined Election ad contains false information.
  2. The story was about an advertisement by the Nelson Citizens Alliance published that day in the Nelson Weekly and it gave five candidates, who had been mentioned in the advertisement, the opportunity to respond. It also reported that Neville Male, the convenor of the Nelson Citizens Alliance, was approached for comment but did not respond in time for publication. A footnote added that Nelson Weekly wished to apologise for the publication of false statements in the newspaper.
  3. Mr Male complained that the advertisement was removed from the Nelson Weekly website without consultation and that the editor had allowed the candidates to comment without allowing the Alliance the opportunity to counter.
  4. He complained that there had been breaches of Media Council Principles (1) Accuracy, fairness and balance; (4) Comment and fact; (5) Columns, blogs, opinion and letters; and (12) Corrections.
  5. The Media Council notes the Alliance also made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about the Nelson Weekly’s handling of the advertisement. The ASA noted the Nelson Weekly apologised for the ad and provided an opportunity for people named in the ad to respond. The lengths the publisher went to, to address the concerns of readers and those named in the ad, went beyond the ASA’s requirements to not publish the material again.  Due to the publisher’s action the complaint was dealt with informally.
  6. The Media Council is of the view that  no complaint has been made out to show how the Nelson Weekly article broke any of the principles cited in this complaint.  It has not been shown that anything in the response was false.  The response  acknowledged the Alliance advertisement contained disinformation about candidates and gave those candidates an opportunity to respond. It also gave the Alliance an opportunity to comment, which it did not take.  It is hard to see what more it could fairly do.

Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.

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