Decisions

Swan vs TVNZ (13/001)

Content: ‘Justice failed’ Trayvon Martin – civil rights group

Publisher: Television New Zealand Limited

Outcome: No Grounds to Proceed

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Summary:

The Chairman viewed a copy of the content, the complaint, the preliminary response from TVNZ and the relevant Standards from the Code, Standard 2 Balance on Controversial Issues and Standard 3 Fairness.

He noted the concerns of the Complainant, Kathleen Swan who considered the “coverage extremely biased and negative”. The Complainant also considered that reference to Trayvon Martin as a child was misleading. The Chairman confirmed that the content before him used the adjective “teenager” to describe Trayvon Martin and that this was not in breach of the Code of Standards.

The Chairman, in considering the remainder of the complaint, took into account the requirement of the Code of Standards to ensure balance on controversial issues, taking into account the context in which the content is published. He also noted that the Fairness standard provides for context and public interest to be considered.

In the Chairman’s view, the content published on the TVNZ website, sourced from Reuters, clearly presented the views of the National Association of Colored People and others with a similar perspective in reaction to the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman. It was not, and did not purport to be, content covering all aspects of the trial and all views with regard to the case and its outcome.

The Chairman ruled that the matters raised by the Complainant did not present an arguable breach of the Code of Standards and there were no grounds for the complaint to proceed.

Chairman’s Ruling: No Grounds to Proceed

Date of Ruling: 24 July 2013