Case Number: 2919

Council Meeting: JULY 2020

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: National Business Review

Ruling Categories: Offensive Language


On June 18, 2020 the National Business Review published an article headlined‘N’ word makes life easier for consumers. The article began A previously under-used payment holiday category is reducing account arrears.

Pete Bernhardt complained to NBR about the reference to ‘N word’ saying “despite the article itself being about an N option, it appears you are referencing a racist term as click-bait.This is offensive and negligent.I would suggest a correction and apology is necessary.”

The NBR replied saying “There was no thought from the author of the story or those who subbed it towards any deliberate clickbait headline or any racist overtone as you have inferred.It is called the “N” which is why [the author] referred to it as such.We tweaked the headline to N option after some readers complained that a wrong inference could be taken.I don’t think any further action is necessary.”

The Media Council notes that Mr Bernhardt seems not to have been alone in his concerns about the headline.

We also note that Mr Bernhardt complained at 11.24am on the day of publication and the email from the NBR noting the change had been made was sent at 11.31am. This was a quick response, which does suggest the use of a term that can be considered to be offensive was inadvertent. It also defuses any complaint.

In any event the headline did not breach any of the Media Council Principles cited by Mr Bernhardt.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.