Case Number: 848

Council Meeting: November 2001

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Wanganui Chronicle

Ruling Categories: Editorial Discretion

The New Zealand Press Council did not uphold any of Ian Little’s complaints against the Wanganui Chronicle /Wanganui Midweek. Ian Little, a prospective mayoral candidate, objected to the way in which his written profile was presented in the Wanganui Chronicle in the lead up to the September local body elections. The Chronicle had asked Mr Little for an interview and to provide personal details, as they had done for all the other contenders for the position of mayor in Wanganui. Mr Little complained that the published article was completely different to the written personal information which he had supplied to the reporter for the interview.
The Wanganui Chronicle editor had not printed his report verbatim, but all the relevant personal material provided by Mr Little had been included in the published column, with the exception of his favourite song.

Mr Little also wanted to know why he was the only one whose photo was printed in black and white. The editor explained that it was not always possible in a paper the size of the Wanganui Chronicle to have the luxury of printing all photos in colour, whilst also pointing out that the adjoining column featured a black and white photo of another mayoral candidate.

Mr Little had a further complaint – this time with the policy change by the Wanganui Midweek community paper in their non-acceptance of noms de plume for Letters to the Editor. He wanted to know why the policy had changed in the middle of council election time. The editor explained that the decision to discontinue with the noms de plume was made to bring the weekly community paper into line with the style of their daily newspaper, the Wanganui Chronicle. It was coincidental that the change occurred during election time.

The Press Council does not uphold any of Mr Little’s complaints. The paper had published the facts provided by Mr Little, and the photo was not the only black and white one of a mayoral candidate. The decision not to allow noms de plume, which is the generally accepted practice of most New Zealand papers, is purely a matter of editorial policy.

People with complaints against a newspaper should first complain in writing to the editor of the publication and then, if not satisfied with the response, complain to the Press Council. Complaints should be addressed to the Secretary, P O Box 10-879 The Terrace, Wellington. Tel 473 5220. Information on the Press Council is available on the internet at www.presscouncil.org.nz