PHILIP WRIGHT AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 2041

Council Meeting: JUNE 2008

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Discrimination
Taste Lack of

The Press Council has not upheld a complaint by Philip Wright regarding the use of the word mania in a billboard publicising the feature insert Puzzle Mania in the New Zealand Herald of May 19, 2008. The billboard read “Inside today Puzzle Mania”.

The Complaint:
Mr Wright advised he was a barrister who did a lot of work in the mental health area both in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He had seen first-hand the “…horrific and gut wrenching effects caused by mania, hypermania and depression …”.

He took grave exception to the Herald’s use of both the word and a psychiatric condition to sell newspapers. He thought the Herald should apologise to all mental health sufferers and consumers and be forced to make a significant donation to a trust of which he was an adviser.

The Newspaper’s Response:
The editor advised the newspaper based its house style on the Concise Oxford Dictionary which defined mania (in combination with another word) as denoting extreme enthusiasm or admiration, giving as an example Beatlemania.

He noted the Puzzle Mania feature in each Monday’s Herald was for puzzle enthusiasts and the use of the word was therefore appropriate.

The Herald did not seek to belittle people’s suffering.

Finding:
The Press Council cannot uphold this complaint. While having every sympathy for people suffering from psychiatric mania, the Council agrees with the editor that the word has a wider usage, and was used appropriately in this context.

The complaint is not upheld.

Press Council members considering this complaint were Barry Paterson (Chairman), Aroha Beck, Ruth Buddicom, Kate Coughlan, Penny Harding, Keith Lees, Clive Lind and Denis McLean.

John Gardner took no part in the consideration of this complaint