One News – Police shooting of Steven Wallace – correction – inaccurate
Standard G14 – correction not inaccurate – no inaccurate implication – no uphold
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
A correction was broadcast on One News about an erroneous statement in an earlier item about the Police shooting of Steven Wallace. The correction was broadcast on TV One at 6.00pm on 16 May 2001.
A A K Grant complained to the broadcaster, Television New Zealand Ltd, that the correction "compounded and underlined the original misreporting", as he considered that it implied that the shooting related to breaking windows.
TVNZ did not uphold the complaint as it considered that the correction was accurate.
Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s decision, Mr Grant referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
For the reasons given below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
The members of the Authority have viewed tapes of the item complained about and the original broadcast. They have also read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines this complaint without a formal hearing.
A correction was broadcast on One News about an erroneous statement made in an earlier One News item. The correction was broadcast on TV One at 6.00pm on 16 May 2001.
The original item, broadcast on 29 April 2001, on the anniversary of the Police shooting of Steven Wallace, incorrectly stated that Steven Wallace had been "shot and killed for smashing windows". The correction broadcast on 16 May stated that "The reporter should have said he was shot ‘after’ smashing windows."
A A K Grant complained to the broadcaster, Television New Zealand Ltd, that the correction "compounded and underlined the original misreporting". Mr Grant considered that:
Both statements imply, equally, that the shooting was related to the breaking of windows, and not to the threats to a police officer.
TVNZ considered the complaint under standard G14 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. That standard provides:
G14 News must be presented accurately, objectively and impartially.
In TVNZ’s response to Mr Grant’s complaint, it said that it believed it was important that the context in which the original mistake was made should be taken into account. In its view, the reporter’s intention was to reflect what the Wallace family was feeling on the anniversary of the shooting. TVNZ noted that the reporter’s full statement was:
"It may be a year on but the wounds are far from healed in the Wallace family. They hope the inquest into his death soon will reveal many of the answers they are searching for as to why their son was shot and killed for smashing windows."
TVNZ explained that its error arose because the reporter did not directly link the phrase "killed for smashing windows" with the Wallace family. It then disagreed that it should have said that Mr Wallace had been shot for threatening a Police officer, noting that the reason Mr Wallace was shot had not been established.
In TVNZ’s assessment, standard G14 was not breached as it considered that the correction was accurate.
When he referred his complaint to the Authority, Mr Grant reiterated the points made in his complaint. He also added that TVNZ’s comments about the original report referring to the Wallace family’s views were "totally irrelevant" to the 16 May broadcast.
Standard G14 requires the Authority to consider whether the correction was presented in a manner which was accurate, objective or impartial. Having viewed both the correction and the original broadcast, the Authority’s view is that the correction was neither explicitly nor implicitly inaccurate. It does not accept Mr Grant’s assertion that the correction implied that the shooting of Steven Wallace was related to the breaking of windows. In addition, the Authority does not consider that the correction required any further elaboration in order to comply with the standard. Accordingly, it concludes that standard G14 is not breached.
For the above reasons, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
16 August 2001
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint: