It was important for the New Zealand Herald to publish an article about problems in a New Zealand town even though it showed the municipality “in a bad light.”
“Journalism properly has a history of shining a light in areas where attention is required to effect change,” the New Zealand Media Council explained. “There is no evidence that any of the dismal statistics quoted were in any way inaccurate.”
The Herald‘s story from December headlined, “The desolation of Kaikohe” reported on a manslaughter and road rage case and included information about the area’s crime and unemployment. The article said that in 2013 Kaikohe had “the worst deprivation index.”
A reader complained that the article was unfair to Kaikohe and sent a complaint to the paper with a response letter. But, the Herald never responded so the media council investigated.
The media council criticized the newspaper for not responding to the reader’s complaint; however, the council dismissed the reader’s complaint because it was important to report, it wrote.
The article “looks to be a well-constructed story about the characters caught up in a tragic crime in a deprived small town,” the media council ruled. “The bulk of the story focuses on the death of Chris Vujcich and his assailant Patrick Tarawa and it then goes on to look at Kaikohe itself. Numerous people, including prominent local politicians, were reported commenting on its depressing plight.”
iMediaEthics has written to the Herald‘s editor for its response to the ruling. The New Zealand Media Council regulates complaints about print and online media.