PETER ZOHRAB AGAINST KAPITI NEWS

Case Number: 2074

Council Meeting: MAY 2009

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Kapiti News

Ruling Categories: Letters to the Editor, Closure, Non-Publication

Introduction
Peter Zohrab makes a complaint about non publication of an article submitted to the Kapiti News. He states specifically: “I am writing to complain that the Kapiti News has refused to publish my article on domestic violence”.

Mr Zohrab’s complaint about non-publication of his article is not upheld.

Background
White Ribbon Day is an international day where people wear a white ribbon to show they oppose violence towards women.

On Wednesday November 19, 2008, the Kapiti News published an article headed “Mayor right behind White Ribbon Day”. The article called on the community to support White Ribbon Day.

On 3 December, 2008 the Kapiti News published an article headed “Turning the tide on domestic violence”, covering activities at Paraparaumu Beach which were part of White Ribbon Day.

Mr Zohrab sent a letter to the Kapiti News requesting they run an article, to be provided by him, on domestic violence perpetrated by women towards men, as he believed that the articles covering White Ribbon Day were false and discriminatory towards men.

The editor, Simon Waters, replied that they would “consider any article, submitted by yourself, on the subject”.

On 21 January, 2009, Mr Zohrab was informed that Steven Bell was now the editor of Kapiti News. Mr Bell informed Mr Zohrab he would only run Mr Zohrab’s article as a letter to the editor not as an article.

Mr Bell stated that during the conversation, Mr Zohrab became abusive, then stated that he would complain to the Press Council regarding Mr Bell’s refusal to publish the article. Mr Bell then told Mr Zohrab that he would not publish it at all.

Mr Zohrab brought his complaint to the Press Council.

Response from Kapiti News
The editor responded stating that the articles concerned were not about Mr Zohrab and he was not mentioned in them. The articles covered a community event for White Ribbon Day. The editor stated that he had “considered the public interest in publishing Mr Zohrab’s material and whether legally or in the interests of natural justice he merited a right of reply and considered that he did not”. He also considered that Mr Zohrab’s material was not in keeping with the usual content of the Kapiti News.

The editor went on to say that when he was telling Mr Zohrab that he would accept a letter to the editor the discussion was terminated because of Mr Zohrab’s abusive comments.

Discussion and Conclusion
Mr Zohrab clearly states in his letter dated 30 January, 2009, “I am writing to complain that the Kapiti News has refused to publish my article on domestic violence”.

It is not the New Zealand Press Council’s function to dictate to a newspaper what offered material they should or should not accept for publication.

In the particular circumstances of this complaint the Council considers there was no question of balance or unfairness that called for a right of reply.

The complaint is not upheld.

Press Council members considering the complaint were Barry Paterson (Chairman), Pip Bruce Ferguson, Ruth Buddicom, Kate Coughlan, John Gardner, Sandy Gill, Penny Harding, Keith Lees, Clive Lind, Lynn Scott.

Alan Samson took no part in the consideration of this complaint.