VERNE BURMESTER AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 3231

Council Meeting: MARCH 2022

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Comment and Fact
Police
Unfair Coverage

Overview

The New Zealand Herald published an article on March 9, 2022, headlined Parliament protest: 1700 complaints – but police back ‘proportionate’ use of force during unlawful occupation. It included a brief video showing one incident where it was reported one protester appeared to move in on an officer before being pushed back and falling to the ground.

Verne Burmester said that if the reporter had done a few minutes research she would have uncovered a different video angle showing the protester being punched and collapsing after he appeared to intervene where a woman was on the ground being hit by a police shield.

He said that the reporter’s description of what happened was incorrect, trivialised the situation and was biased. He said this breached Media Council Principles 1 (accuracy, fairness and balance) and 4 (comment and fact).

The Herald responded saying the video of the exchange that led to the man failing to the ground was not misleading. It was raw, unedited footage. There were other videos of the same incident which were shot from other angles, but The Herald could not use these without permission.

The Herald said they asked for but did not get information from the police on this incident. However, they had reported more than 1700 complaints had been made about police actions during the protest.

The Media Council does not believe there is any basis for this complaint. The video, which was run with the story, showed a man reeling back and falling to the ground after attacking the police line. The article contained a fair description of what it depicted. In showing actions that could be interpreted as violent on both sides, it was balanced. There was no evidence that the story or video were misleading or biased and there was no obligation for The Herald to seek out other videos. No alternative or additional videos were provided with the complaint.

There were insufficient grounds to proceed

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