Case Number: 2657

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Discrimination

The Complaint

Ronel Jacobs complained about two articles by Siena Yates published by

The first “TVNZ's specific 'type' of host and why it's an issue,” was published on January 19, following TVNZ’s announcement that Hilary Barry was moving from Breakfast to Seven Sharp. The article was accompanied by photos of recent TVNZ female hosts, all blonde and pakeha, and asked “Where’s the diversity?” The writer then named some possible contenders for the co-hosting role should TVNZ care to move away from its historical setting of a “straight white male”.

The second piece The real reason Black Panther’s a game changer, published on February 9, noted how little publicity the upcoming release of the movie Black Panther had engendered. She noted that Black Panther is “a film made by and almost exclusively starring people of colour who aren’t sidekicks and footnotes but kings and queens.” She also noted some of the extreme online commentary about the movie including the twitter comment that the movie was “too black”.

She pointed out how hard it was growing up and seeing people of colour on screen only as sidekicks standing in the background.Now here was a film that could “change how a new generation sees themselves and each other, and in that respect it’s definitely a game-changer.”

Ronel Jacobs complained that the two articles discriminated against white people. “Surely she can’t do hate speech against the white race, promote other races and the media can publish it?”

The complaint was given preliminary consideration by a Press Council Committee who saw it as having no merit. Siena Yates's columns make unexceptional comment on issues of gender and race. A lament about the lack of diversity in the selection of female TV hosts and favourable comment about the all black casting of the Black Panther movie cannot be construed as hate speech and the complainant is over-reaching when she claims the columnist "obviously" doesn't like white people and wants the media to stop using white people in TV shows and movies.

Ruling: No Grounds to Proceed

The Response

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