SCOTT MCLEOD AGAINST MEDIAWORKS NEWSHUB

Case Number: 2910

Council Meeting: JUNE 2020

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Mediaworks

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Headlines and Captions
Sensationalism

Overview

CASE NO: 2910

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF SCOTT MCLEOD AGAINST NEWSHUB

FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: JUNE 2020

On June 4, 2020 Newshub published a short piece Coronavirus: Government to release COVID-19 ‘digital diary’ app to track Kiwis’ movements at alert level 2. The article started the Government is launching a COVID-19 ‘digital diary’ app to help Kiwis keep track of where they have been and assist in contact tracing if needed.

The Facebook promo for the article stated Government launching COVID-19 app to track Kiwis’ movements at alert level 2.

Scott McLeod complained that Newshub was using a title [headline] to scare the population of New Zealand into not helping themselves. “The app does not track you”, he said, “You use the app to record your visits this is not tracking. The app has no idea where you have been. The Government is not tracking you.”

Mediaworks Standards Committee responded saying that the first line of the article explained the Government app was a ‘digital diary’ to help Kiwis keep track of where they have been and assist in tracing if needed. At no point did the article state the app would be used by the government to track Kiwis.

Mr McLeod complains that the headline:

“Government launching Covid-19 app to track Kiwis’ movements at alert level 2”

breached principle 6 relating to headlines. He argued that the app records where people visit and the word track is misleading and likely to scare people off using the app.

The headline is ambiguous and could be read as Mr McLeod contends but it could just as readily be read with less sinister meaning. This is made clear in the first sentence that follows which reads “The Government is launching a COVID19 app to help Kiwis keep track of where they’ve been and assist in contact tracing if needed.”

Headlines and promos are designed to give a brief taste of the story that follows and are designed to attract readers’ attention. Because of their brevity headlines can often be read in different ways but that does not make them inaccurate or misleading. In this case there are insufficient grounds to proceed.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.

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