Case Number: 2720

Council Meeting: October 2018

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Radio NZ

Ruling Categories: Comment and Fact
Conflict of Interest

The Decision

Ruling by the New Zealand Media Council on the complaint of Simon Monrad Gough against Radio New Zealand

Finding: No grounds to proceed

Date: October 2018

Simon Monrad Gough complained about an on-line article headed Bridges meeting the needs of party faithful and new breedpublished by Radio New Zealand on July 29, 2018.

He believed the item breached Media Council principle 4 (comment and fact) and 9 (conflicts of interest).

He said this was essentially a National Party public relations piece written by a former party staffer. It was prominently displayed as the first story on the web page and presented under a traditional news headline. The wordOpinion was in small writing under the headline.

It confused and conflated news and commentary portions of the site.

Radio New Zealand complaints coordinator George Bignell said the item was clearly labelled as an opinion piece. The author was identified, and her name was asterisked with the following detail given at the bottom of the piece:

“*Brigitte Morten is a senior consultant for Silvereye. Prior to that she was a seniorministerial adviser to the Minister of Education in the Previous National-led government, and an advisor and campaign director for Australia’s Liberal Party.”

Mr Bignell said readers would have been well aware that it was written from a singular perspective and that it was opinion. That was clearly signalled to readers.

The Media Council notes the item was clearly marked as opinion. Although the conflict of interest was not declared right at the start, the author’s name was prominently asterisked and the asterisk led to a reasonably full declaration.

Finding: No grounds to proceed