STU DICKSON AGAINST STUFF

Case Number: 3022

Council Meeting: APRIL 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Bias
Discrimination
Unfair Coverage

Overview

Stuff published a story on 6 April 2021 headlined Popular eatery Monsoon Poon to remove ‘racist’ slogan from footpath. The story said the slogan “Love U Long Time” greeted visitors to the restaurant. The phrase, first seen in Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket, was used to sexualise Asian women in a derogatory way. Many people had criticised the restaurant online for the use of the slogan, the story said. The restaurant’s owners said they had decided to remove the words. The story quoted a sociology lecturer, who said trivialising and mocking Asian culture was subtle racism.

Stu Dickson complained the article was biased and falsely claimed the use of the line “Love your long time” was racist. It was a movie reference rather than a racial slur. “Stuff have presented opinion as fact regarding the intent and meaning of this phrase. It has not occurred to them that the restaurant was using it in a joking manner with no offense or literal meaning intended.”Mr Dickson also objected to the “horrible bullying tactic used by Stuff” when they picked up concerns expressed in social media and then shamed a business into changing the way they do things.

Stuff replied that the phrase referred to was widely considered to be racist and was used in that context in the film Full Metal Jacket. Social media was where many people expressed their opinions and it was a legitimate source for journalists. The restaurant’s owners had reflected on whether their slogan was appropriate in modern society, and Stuff had simply reported on this.

Mr Dickson’s complaint centred on Principle 1: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance and Principle 4: Comment and Fact. Stuff was clearly reporting the opinions of people who find the phrase referred to as racist and objectionable, so there was no inaccuracy and a clear distinction between opinion and fact. The Media Council also notes that the words are widely perceived as racist and are said in the movie by a Vietnamese prostitute soliciting an American soldier. Regarding the complaint about social media as a source, it is entirely at the discretion of editors to decide how and where they find stories, but any resulting article must comply with the Media Council principles.

There was no inaccuracy and statements of opinion are clearly shown as such. No Principles have been breached.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.