TOM DOESBURG AGAINST STUFF

Case Number: 3196

Council Meeting: FEBRUARY 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Ruling Categories: Discrimination
Unfair Coverage

Overview

CASE NO: 3196

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF TOM DOESBURG AGAINST STUFF

FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: FEBRUARY 2022

 

Stuff published an article on January 27, 2022, headlined Omicron at Soundsplash – claims of unvaccinated fence-jumpers at music festival.

It reported that a number of positive Covid-19 cases had been reported after the Hamilton festival. It included comment from a woman who said her daughter shared a vape with an unvaccinated boy who had jumped the fence to enter the festival.

Tom Doesburg complained that the article was helping to fuel division in the country. The Omicron variant could be spread by the vaccinated and unvaccinated and this article “makes out that the unvaccinated are evil spreaders of the virus.”

He said this type of reporting created feelings of angst and added to the discrimination the unvaccinated were already feeling. There was no legal requirement to be vaccinated and it was unfair to treat the unvaccinated as the scapegoat.

The Media Council considers this complaint to be based on a misreading of the article. It was a straightforward report on a matter of public interest. It did not say the unvaccinated are more likely to spread the virus, no reference is made to anybody being an “evil spreader” and the unvaccinated were not treated as the scapegoat.

There were insufficient grounds to proceed.

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