Case Number: 837

Council Meeting: August 2001

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Balance, Lack Of

The Press Council has not upheld a complaint laid by Ponifasio Ioane over the failure of the New Zealand Herald to report his intention to appeal a decision of the Employment Tribunal.

The Herald, on 12 May 2000, carried a report, with photograph, on the hearing by the Tribunal of Mr Ioane’s personal grievance claim against the Waitakere City Council for unjustified dismissal. Under the headline “Ticket quota sparks firing” the story focussed on Mr Ioane’s contention that he had been harassed and then sacked from his position as a parking officer because he had not increased his monthly tally of tickets. On 23 March 2001 the newspaper reported briefly that the adjudicator had ruled against him. Mr Ioane complained, first to the chief reporter (30 March) than to the editor (24 April) and finally to the Press Council (26 June), on the grounds, essentially, that the Herald should have reported that he had filed notice of appeal against the Tribunal decision.

The editor responded on 10 July that it was not the “paper’s practice to seek comments from participants on all or any judgements of tribunals or courts……Should Mr Ioane’s promised appeal be heard, the Herald will definitely pursue the story through that next stage”.

The Press Council does not uphold the complaint. The editor must determine what is and what is not newsworthy; Mr Ioane’s decision to appeal, while no doubt of considerable personal importance to him, did not materially alter the issues which had led the paper to report the case in the first place. As the editor has noted, the matters at issue will be further explored by the paper if and when Mr Ioane’s appeal is heard.