TIM CONDER AGAINST RNZ

Case Number: 3281

Council Meeting: JUNE 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Radio NZ

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Photographs and Graphics

Ruling Categories:

Overview

[1] On 8 April 2022 RNZ published a story on its website headed: High Court rules vaccine mandates justified for doctors and teachers. It reported that a legal challenge of the Government’s vaccination mandate had failed. One of the photographs illustrating the story showed a line of police with shields and a protestor who appeared to be about to throw something at them. The caption said: “Vaccine mandates spurred the protests at Parliament earlier this year.

[2] Tim Conder complained about the use of the photograph under Principle 1: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance, and Principle 11: Photographs and Graphics, saying that while some protestors were motivated by the same issue as the court case, it was unfair to group people who shared the same viewpoint together in this way. The act depicted in the photograph was unjustifiable violence against the police, and was not representative of those opposed to vaccine mandates as a whole, and certainly not those who brought the legal challenge. The use of the image painted the parties to the litigation in an unfair light. 

[3] RNZ rejected the complaint, saying the caption demonstrated the Wellington protests were linked in part to objections to the vaccine mandates. There was a justifiable link between the protests, the vaccine mandates and the court case, RNZ said.

[4] The Media Council notes that the caption clearly explained that the photograph was of the Wellington protests, not of those who brought the court case. It showed the strong feelings generated by the issue and showed different aspects of the same debate but did not sully the reputation of those who challenged the vaccination mandate in court. No principles were breached.

[5] There were insufficient grounds to proceed.

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