STU DICKSON AGAINST STUFF 3
Case Number: 3106
Council Meeting: SEPTEMBER 2021
Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed
Ruling Categories: Balance
Stu Dickson complained about a Stuff story published on 27 August 2021 headed Covid-19 protective measures we can take against the Delta variant. The article failed to consider evidence against the efficacy of masks, he said. Telling people a mask could protect them from Covid promoted a false sense of security. All the experts quoted in the story said the same thing so there was no balance. Stuff had been provided with evidence that masks made no difference, but this was ignored, which showed bias.
Stuff noted that Mr Dickson had also mentioned there were exemptions to mask use and this had been added to the story. On the issue of mask efficacy, Stuff said the reporter had spoken to a number of experts on aerosols, epidemiology and public health, as well as the Ministry of Health. Stuff was satisfied the story provided valid and balanced reporting regarding the science around mask use.
The article does not say that masks will prevent everyone from getting Covid-19, but it does say that they are a useful preventative measure. Stuff had interviewed a range of reputable local experts who thought masks were helpful and this is the current Ministry of Health advice. It was reasonable for Stuff to rely on the experts quoted to deliver an accurate picture of the current science on masks. The reporter did not need to go looking for someone to disagree to provide balance.
Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.