RICHARD HOADLEY AGAINST STUFF

Case Number: 3219

Council Meeting: MARCH 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Misleading

Overview

Stuff published an article on February 2, 2022, headlined Supermarkets urged to help shoppers check-in on climate at the checkout. The story was based on comments made by the marketing manager of tech company Cogo who is promoting a service that would enable shoppers to get a receipt showing the carbon footprint of their purchases.

Richard Hoadley complained that the reporter had been unable to justify a statement in the story by the Cogo marketing manager that “food was the second biggest cause of household carbon emissions in New Zealand.”

He also complained that Stuff does not have evidence to support its claim that “climate change is real and caused by human activity.”

The reporter responded saying she had checked the information referred to by Cogo’s marketing manager. The claim was based on a Stats NZ report which stated food and non-alcoholic beverages were the second biggest cause of household carbon emissions in New Zealand. She believed it was reasonable to rely on information provided by New Zealand’s official statistics agency information.

The Media Council has seen a Stats NZ press release dated August 27, 2020, which is the source of the information relied on. There is no basis for the suggesting the claim made in the article was inaccurate.

As for the second leg of Mr Hoadley’s complaint, the Media Council has ruled on this issue previously and found Stuff’s policy on climate change is not a breach of its principles.

As stated in case 2745 (Andy Esperson against Stuff) the Council said:

Stuff has come to the conclusion, as many other publications have, that there is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that anthropogenic climate change is happening and it is a critical issue.

And in case 2470 (Neil Henderson against The Gisborne Herald) the Council noted

The Council's principles also allow an exception from the requirement for balance for long running issues where the various views have been well canvassed. Climate change has now become such an issue.

[I]t would be fair to say that unless the scientific consensus on climate change shifts markedly, or important new information comes to light, it is unlikely complaints alleging lack of balance, because the climate change sceptic viewpoint is not included, will be successful.

The Statement of Principles preamble also states that publications have the right to adopt a forthright stance or to advocate on any issue. Stuff is well within its rights to adopt such an approach, particularly since it has advised its readers it is doing so.

The Media Council does not find Stuff to be in breach of any of its principles. There are insufficient grounds to proceed.

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