New Zealand’s largest news site Stuff doesn’t have to publish anti-vaccine content, the New Zealand Media Council said.
The media council made that decision related to a recent complaint against Stuff’s coverage of vaccines. A naturopathy doctor, Joe Rozencwajg, complained to the council about what he saw as a “flurry” of pro-vaccination news and opinion articles. He told the council that Stuff wouldn’t publish responses that were anti-vaccine and argued it was censorship, according to the council.
However, the council rejected Rozencwajg’s complaint, finding that New Zealand has “something close to a public health emergency” with recent cases of measles and said it was a “public service” to publish news and opinion articles that were pro-vaccine. iMediaEthics has written to Rozencwajg and Stuff.
“The pros and cons of vaccination amount to a long-running debate over a number of years in which all possible views have been expressed,” the council found. Further, there is a “widespread consensus” that vaccines prevent “the spread of serious diseases” with a “low risk of adverse reactions,” the council wrote, adding that “the consequences of this are far outweighed by the public benefit of herd immunity when a high percentage of the population has been vaccinated.”
Stuff declined to comment to iMediaEthics.
The council continued, “There is also a legitimate concern that exaggerated fears and conspiracy theories promoted by anti-vaccination campaigners may leave people open to readily preventable serious infectious diseases.”