Case Number: 3082

Council Meeting: AUGUST 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Discrimination


Robin Grieve complained about two articles published by Stuff on May 30 and June 5. The first was an opinion piece by Andrea Vance headedRace relations: what happens if we ignore this white reservoir of rage? which discussed the backlash against the social justice movement to challenge post-colonial inequality and redress past injustices. The other was an opinion piece by Tony Wall headedRacist incidents are giving Tauranga a bad name which commented on ridicule and abuse faced by Maori and said that it seemed Tauranga had been taken over by an army of white, privileged rednecks who had no tolerance for anyone or anything that did not look like them.

Mr Grieve complained that both articles breached Media Council Principle 7 (diversity and discrimination) by making gratuitous reference to race. They did not need to refer to race to make their point and reference to white people was gratuitous, offensive and racist. He added that the writers of these articles referred to people they assumed to be white and that this was racist stereotyping.

Media Council Principle 7 states that issues of gender, religion, minority groups, sexual orientation, age, race, colour or physical or mental disability are legitimate subjects for discussion where they are relevant and in the public interest, and publications may report and express opinions in these areas. Publications should not, however, place gratuitous emphasis on any such category in their reporting.

Both of these articles were expressions of opinion and clearly presented as such and there was no evidence that they were not based on fact.Given that they were on the subject of race relations it is hard to sustain an argument that reference to race is gratuitous.

There are insufficient grounds for the complaint to proceed.