TWO COMPLAINTS AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD
Case Number: 3146
Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2021
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Children and Young People
CASE NO: 3146
RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON TWO COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD
FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED
DATE: NOVEMBER 2021
On October 18, 2021 The New Zealand Herald ran an article headlined Covid-19 delta outbreak: Woman who attended illegal North Shore lockdown party hits out at haters, defends actions. The item was about a person who was upset by strong social media reaction to her involvement in a party that contravened Auckland lockdown rules.
The Media Council received two complaints about the article. The first complained that the article targeted a child of 17 with no concern for her or her guardians. The 17 year old had been put at risk and her privacy had been breached by showing her face. She accepted that attending the party was a mistake, but the platform created by the Herald laid her open to everyone to attack her colour, race and background.
A separate complaint said the teenager had been publicly humiliated and sent death threats and her privacy had been breached when videos were posted on social media. He also asked for all content about her to be deleted.
The Media Council notes the teenager in this article and video was not identified by name and the video clip used by the Herald was so short and blurry that it was hard to identify anyone. Neither was there and indication there was a young person involved.
There was clearly a strong public interest in reporting the party, and that it was attended by a group of social influencers – people who promote and trade on their social media profiles. The Herald could hardly have ignored the story and its reportage reflected what was already out there. No evidence has been presented to demonstrate breaches of any Media Council principles.
Given the party goers’ activity on social media it is not surprising that video of the party went viral and generated a lot of comment on those platforms. By posting on-line, even in her own defence, the teenager helped feed the traffic and generate even more reaction. The Herald cannot be held responsible for media content over which it has no control.
There was no unacceptable breach of privacy (no one was identifiable). There was no inaccuracy. There was no indication the special interests invoked by the Principle relating to children and young people should be engaged.
There were insufficient grounds to proceed.
The complainants’ names have not been used so as not to risk identifying the teenager concerned.