NGAIRE SMALL AGAINST NELSON MAIL

Case Number: 2705

Council Meeting: AUGUST 2018

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Nelson Mail

Ruling Categories: Columnists
Editorial Freedom
Errors, Apology and Correction Sought
Offensive Language

Overview

CASE NO: 2705

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF NGAIRE SMALL AGAINST NELSON MAIL

FINDING: NO GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: AUGUST 2018

Ngaire Small complained that an editorial Having a jab at the anti-vaxers published in theNelson Mail on July 9, 2018 was “highly obnoxious and insulting”.

Ms Small contended the writer had assumed that those who chose not to vaccinate their children are ignorant and have done no research on the topic.

Terms used such as “dangerously deluded”, “ill-informed zealotry” and “barking idiocy” were wrong as she and other anti-vaxers had research to back their belief in the dangers of vaccination.

She suggested the writer was cowardly in not being identified. She asked the Mail to “practice balanced and fair journalism on an issue as emotive as this one.”

As the editor advised editorials are mostly anonymous as they are written from a wider perspective representing the view of the publication, not just an individual.

The Media Council noted that the editorial was clearly identified as such and is the opinion of the writer, who believes the benefit of vaccinations has been well proven and that anti-vaxxers are deluded, wrongheaded etc.

There is no requirement for balance in an editorial or opinion piece.

Ms Small may be offended by the language, tone and content of the piece but this comes down to a matter of freedom of expression, the most important principle the Media Council takes into account when considering complaints.

As for the science relating to the efficacy and risks of vaccinations, this has been the subject of long-running debate. The Media Council does not have the expertise or mandate to act as a referee in such debates.

Finding: No Grounds to Proceed.

CASE NO: 2705

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF NGAIRE SMALL AGAINST NELSON MAIL

FINDING: NO GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: AUGUST 2018

Ngaire Small complained that an editorial Having a jab at the anti-vaxers published in theNelson Mail on July 9, 2018 was “highly obnoxious and insulting”.

Ms Small contended the writer had assumed that those who chose not to vaccinate their children are ignorant and have done no research on the topic.

Terms used such as “dangerously deluded”, “ill-informed zealotry” and “barking idiocy” were wrong as she and other anti-vaxers had research to back their belief in the dangers of vaccination.

She suggested the writer was cowardly in not being identified. She asked the Mail to “practice balanced and fair journalism on an issue as emotive as this one.”

As the editor advised editorials are mostly anonymous as they are written from a wider perspective representing the view of the publication, not just an individual.

The Media Council noted that the editorial was clearly identified as such and is the opinion of the writer, who believes the benefit of vaccinations has been well proven and that anti-vaxxers are deluded, wrongheaded etc.

There is no requirement for balance in an editorial or opinion piece.

Ms Small may be offended by the language, tone and content of the piece but this comes down to a matter of freedom of expression, the most important principle the Media Council takes into account when considering complaints.

As for the science relating to the efficacy and risks of vaccinations, this has been the subject of long-running debate. The Media Council does not have the expertise or mandate to act as a referee in such debates.

Finding: No Grounds to Proceed.