STU DICKSON AGAINST STUFF

Case Number: 3367

Council Meeting: JANUARY 2023

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Principle:

Ruling Categories: Balance, Lack Of
Comment and Fact
Gender

Overview

On December 7, 2022, Stuff published a story headed I was fat-shamed on a flight: The guy in 15C messed with the wrong person. It recounted the experience of a woman who was, as she described it, “fat-shamed” when the passenger beside her on an aircraft showed her unpleasant remarks he had written about her on his phone. The woman was shocked and upset and wrote a poem about the experience. It was published with the Stuff story.

Stu Dickson complained that the story was socially irresponsible and seemed to be legitimising being “fat and unhealthy”. New Zealand had a serious problem with obesity and the story failed to point out the health risks of obesity or how to lose weight. No attempt was made to get the passenger’s version of events, so the story was one-sided. Stuff replied that the story was one person’s honestly held opinion, but Mr Dickson did not accept this as the story was not labelled opinion.

The Media Council agrees with Stuff that the story recounted the experiences and feelings of one woman, and this was clear to the reader. The subject of obesity has been covered in a multitude of stories and there is no need to canvass every aspect of it in this story. The poem was an insightful one and set out to defend obese people against mindless abuse while recognising some of the struggles faced by those who are overweight. No principles were breached.

Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.

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