PAUL ROBERTSON AGAINST THE NZ HERALD

Case Number: 3294

Council Meeting: AUGUST 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance

Ruling Categories: Balance, Lack Of
Distortion
Misleading
Politicians

Overview

The New Zealand Herald published an article on July 20, 202 headlined Poll: National support with women increase, overtaking Labour, despite abortion controversy. The story reported a 1 percent rise in support for National amongst women, a figure which it noted was not itself significant and was well within the margin of error.

Paul Robertson complained that the article was misleading because support for National could just as easily have decreased rather than increased because the 1 per cent change was within the margin of error. The article was not accurate, fair or balanced he said, “The only safe conclusion from the egregious misstatement of fact is that the article promotes a particular political view and should have been labelled as an opinion piece.”

He also said the headline was blatant click bait and did not reflect the results of the poll.

The New Zealand Herald’s editor Murray Kirkness said in response that the article could not be clearer in emphasising that the 1 per cent lead was slim. The article also included two graphs showing male and female voter support for the four main parties dating back to November. Accordingly, the author did not promote a particular point of view – this was neutral reportage of the poll results.

He said the Herald reserved the right to identify the most newsworthy element of the poll and in this case, it was the fact that the results showed National had considerably closed the gap on Labour and then overtaken them in terms of female support.

The headlined accurately summarised the main elements of the article.

The Media Council notes the story seems to be a straightforward report and interpretation of a poll.  It reports a small increase in support amongst woman – a rise that is less than the margin of error. It may be trivial but that doesn’t make it inaccurate. The headline fairly conveys a key element of the story.

 

There are insufficient grounds to proceed.

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