The New Zealand Press Council was established as an industry self-regulatory body in 1972. Its main objective is to provide the public with an independent forum for resolving complaints involving the press. The Council is also concerned with promoting press freedom and maintaining the press in accordance with the highest professional standards.
Its scope applies to published material in newspapers, magazines and their websites, including audio and video streams.
An independent press plays a vital role in a democracy. The proper fulfilment of that role requires a fundamental responsibility for the press to maintain high standards of accuracy, fairness and balance and public faith in those standards.
Freedom of expression and freedom of the media are inextricably bound. There is no more important principle in a democracy than freedom of expression. The print media is jealous in guarding freedom of expression, not just for publishers' sake but, more importantly, in the public interest. In dealing with complaints, the Council will give primary consideration to freedom of expression and the public interest. (See Footnote 3)
The distinctions between fact, on the one hand, and conjecture, opinions or comment, on the other hand, must be maintained. This does not prevent rigorous analysis. Nor does it interfere with a publicationís right to adopt a forthright stance or to advocate on any issue. Further, the Council acknowledges that the genre or purpose of a publication or article, for example, satire or gossip, calls for special consideration in any complaint.
The Press Council endorses the principles and spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi and Bill of Rights, without sacrificing the imperative of publishing news and reports that are in the public interest.
Editors have the ultimate responsibility for what appears in their publications, and to the standards of ethical journalism which the Council upholds. In dealing with complaints, the Council seeks the co-operation of editors and publishers.
The following principles may be used by complainants when they wish to point the Council to the core of their complaint. However, a complainant may nominate other ethical grounds for consideration.