THOMAS TRIPP AGAINST NEWSHUB
Case Number: 3072
Council Meeting: JULY 2021
Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: Newshub TV3
Ruling Categories: Discrimination
Thomas Tripp complained about an article published on the Newshub website on 30 June 2021 headlined:Friends, family and ‘middle-aged white dudes’ blamed for spread of misinformation in NZ.The story reported a survey that found one in five New Zealanders believed in at least three high-profile examples of misinformation about topics including “Covid-19, QAnon and even the Christchurch terror attack”. The story discussed the reasons for this and a data science lecturer was quoted as saying: “And there is a bunch of senior column writers, mostly middle-aged white dudes, that write very misinformed pieces.”
Mr Tripp complained under Principle 7: Discrimination and Diversity, saying that the phrase “middle-aged white dudes” was offensive and unacceptable and that it should not have been used in the headline.
Newshub replied that readers would have understood the use of the phrase was the lecturer’s opinion, to which he was entitled. The inclusion of the quote would not have led to any discrimination or denigration of middle-aged white men. The headline provided an accurate representation of the content of the article.
The Media Council agrees with Newshub that the phrase to which Mr Tripp objected was the opinion of the lecturer quoted. It was descriptive rather than racist. The Council did not regard it as offensive, but even if it was, there is no obligation under Media Council Principles for content to be respectful and inoffensive.
No Principles have been breached.
Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.