TAYLA HARTEMINK AGAINST STUFF

Case Number: 3093

Council Meeting: SEPTEMBER 2021

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Discrimination

Overview

On August 23 and 24, 2021 Stuff ran three stories on the Covid-19 outbreak related to the Assembly of God Church in Mangere.

They were headlined: Covid-19: Over 50 outbreak cases. Pasifika church event could become biggest cluster. Covid-19: 58 cases linked to Pacific church event. NZ’s largest sub cluster. Covid-19: South Auckland bears brunt of fast spreading delta outbreak.

The complainant said Stuff’s reporting breached Media Council principle 7 (discrimination and diversity) and that it was bad journalism to unnecessarily mention ethnicity when it had no relevance to the article and that it “encourages lateral violence towards a marginalised group by perpetuating degrading stereotypes.” It suggested Pasifika people were somehow responsible for the latest Covid-19 outbreak when ethnicity had no correlation to catching the illness.

The Media Council is aware that the Samoan community have borne the brunt of some totally inappropriate comment after the Assembly of God Church of Samoa, based in Mangere, was identified as a location where a cluster of people contracted Covid.

Stuff’s reporting of this was straightforward, factual and on a matter of public interest and there was no gratuitous emphasis on ethnicity. Many of those quoted were Pasifika and they did not suggest that the community was harmed by the reporting - rather to the contrary.

We see no arguable case of breach of any of the Media Council principles. There are insufficient grounds to proceed.

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