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Hide partially wins complaint against NZ Herald

Rodney Hide has partially won a Press Council complaint against the NZ Herald in which he took issue with a journalist's personal tweet.

Chelsea Armitage
Fri, 08 Apr 2016

Columnist and former politician Rodney Hide has partially won a Press Council complaint against the New Zealand Herald in which he took issue with a journalist’s personal tweet.

Mr Hide complained to the Press Council about an article by Herald business journalist Matt Nippert that covered proceedings in the High Court involving David Henderson.

The article referred to earlier proceedings and mentioned the current hearing was “undercutting many of Hide’s claims” he made in previous columns he wrote about the issue.

Mr Hide’s complaint said the article was unfair and inaccurate for a number of reasons but this complaint was not upheld.

Futhermore, Mr Hide filed a secondary complaint about a tweet on Mr Nippert’s personal Twitter account.

“Short write-up of court ruling morphed into 1600-word Greek-style epic featuring crimes, c*nts, lulz and ex-MPs. In @nzheraldbiz Saturday,” the tweet said.

Mr Hide said the tweet lacked accuracy, fairness and balance and was “offensive and displaying a lack of professionalism by a senior journalist.”

While the Press Council did not uphold Mr Hide’s first complaint, it ruled against the tweet, saying “it was unprofessional in its inaccuracy and use of unacceptable language."

The New Zealand Herald’s business editor Fran O’Sullivan said the tweet was “neither directed at Mr Hide nor was there any suggestion it was directed at him.”

She said the tweet was regrettable and it has since been removed. 

The council’s ruling said the tweet was considered advance publicity for the article in the same manner as a poster or headline. It is "one of the first times" the council has ruled on a tweet and almost certainly the first to condemn a journalist's tweet.

The council does not provide commentary on individual rulings.

Advertising or journalism?
Given the complaint was upheld under the premise it was considered “advance publicity,” should it have been dealt with by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)?

Not according to its chief executive Hilary Souter.

“It’s not an ASA issue – it’s obviously not an advertisement. It’s a 2016 version of the thing you used to shove outside the dairy,” she says.

“We’ve never dealt with a tweet but we have dealt with an Instagram post. Each of the jurisdictions will find their own way. We are certainly operating on a case-by-case basis and that’s absolutely what the Press Council is doing, too.”

The tweet may have been subject to the Online Media Standards Authority (OMSA) but neither the New Zealand Herald nor Fairfax Media is a member.

Questions to both organisations about lack of membership went unanswered.

Read the full decision here

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Chelsea Armitage
Fri, 08 Apr 2016
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Hide partially wins complaint against NZ Herald