STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

Scope

The Press Councilís scope applies to published material in newspapers, magazines and their websites, including audio and video streams, as well as to digital sites with news content, or blogs characterised by their new commentary. The Council retains the discretion to decline a complaint if the publication has limited readership or the circumstances make the complaint inappropriate for resolution by the Council.

The Councilís adjudications are based on ethical considerations: it does not recover debts or seek monetary recompense for complainants. Its Principles and Complaints Procedures are set out below.

Preamble

The main objective of the New Zealand Press Council, established as an industry self-regulatory body in 1972, is to provide the public with an independent forum for resolving complaints involving the newspapers, magazines and the websites of such publications and other digital media. The Council is also concerned with promoting media freedom and maintaining the press in accordance with the highest professional standards.

An independent press plays a vital role in a democracy. The proper fulfilment of that role requires a fundamental responsibility to maintain high standards of accuracy, fairness and balance and public faith in those standards.

There is no more important principle in a democracy than freedom of expression. Freedom of expression and freedom of the media are inextricably bound. 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.

Public interest is defined as involving a matter capable of affecting the people at large so that they might be legitimately interested in, or concerned about, what is going on, or what may happen to them or to others.

Distinctions between fact, on the one hand, and conjecture, opinion 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 blogs, satire, cartoons or gossip, call for special consideration in any complaint.

The Press Council endorses the principles and spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi and Bill of Rights Act, 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 for adherence to the standards of ethical journalism which the Council upholds. In dealing with complaints, the Council seeks the co-operation of editors and publishers. News bloggers and digital media are similarly required to participate responsibly.

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.

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