THE ARCHITECTS BOARD AGAINST THE DAILY POSTThe Press Council has not upheld a complaint against the Daily Post in
Rotorua about use of the word "architect." The registrar of the Architects Education and Registration Board, Alan Purdie, complained.
An award-winning house designer, Graham Sawell, who is not a qualified architect under the terms of the Architects Act 1963, was described in the Daily Post as an architect in a report and headline, and another time just in the headline.
After the first occasion, August 11, the Daily Post published a correction before a complaint was made to the editor by the board's registrar; a local architect had pointed out the error. Another report concerning the same designer, on September 19, referred throughout the article to the term architectural designer, but the heading stated "Rotorua architect takes design title."
The board registrar again complained and requested the editor to publish a correction.
Mr Purdie says the term "architect" is protected under law and therefore the newspaper should not describe Mr Sawell as such.[To be registered by the board as an architect, a person must hold a five-year degree in architecture, have completed 140 weeks of approved practical experience and have passed the board's own examinations and interviews].
The editor said that claiming a protection on the word "architect" equated to a virtual copyright, or ownership of the word. He considered Mr Purdie's interpretation of the word "protection" as being far wider than Parliament would ever have intended. He also believed it was clear that once the reader had read the second story, it would have been clear Mr Sawell was an architectural
designer rather than an architect as stated in the headline.
The council does not believe the accuracy of the text makes up for a mistake in the headline. Nor does it believe the inaccuracy in this case is of the order that the complaint should be upheld.
The council accepts that the term architect, like general practitioner, or lawyer, denotes membership of a profession based on qualification and believes the public would expect a newspaper to reflect that. The fact that the newspaper initially published a correction, and subsequently adopted a new term, suggests that it also holds that view, and that the second error was not wilful.