STEVE DIXON AGAINST STUFF

Case Number: 2986

Council Meeting: FEBRUARY 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Children and Young People
Headlines and Captions
Unfair Coverage

Overview

Stuff publishes, on its website, KEA Kids News. This is news “made by kids for kids”. On January 27, 2021 an item, comprising text and a video,How do firefighters train for dangerous house fires? Light houses on fire was published.

The item showed a house deliberately being set on fire so that trainee firefighters could see and experience what is involved in attending a house fire. The house had been donated for this purpose. The young reporter interviewed the Fire Service training officer who advised the best way for trainees to prepare was to get exposure.

Steve Dixon, a “long time firefighter” complained that, while it was true the service had house burns to train in, it was not acceptable to promote this as KEA Kids News. He doubted it was even appropriate for adults to know. He noted that firefighters are fully trained, had the guidance of very senior people in FENZ, there was a lot of red tape to go through and when an exercise was held the full brigade was on standby.

The Media Council acknowledges Mr Dixon’s concerns but considers them overstated. The practice of deliberate house burning is a well-known aspect of training for fire-fighters and this knowledge does not seem to have had any ill-effect on the community or children. The Council noted the emphasis on safety in the presentation and the care taken to protect neighbouring properties. We did not see the video as being anything other than instructive. We believe children would be reassured by knowing that firefighters were well-trained for this eventuality.

None of the Principles cited (Accuracy fairness and balance, Children and young people, Headlines and captions) have been breached.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.

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