The Press Council has considered a complaint that a report of a decision by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal could prejudice a subsequent appeal, contained a number of inaccuracies and had been published without seeking comment from the complainant.
The Council concluded that reporting tribunal proceedings is normal practice and did not uphold this aspect of the complaint. The Council upheld one of the complaints of inaccuracy but dismissed the remainder of them. It concluded that in the particular circumstances the failure to seek comment was not a breach of its Standards of Practice.
The Press Council has considered a complaint that the headline and first paragraph of an article were inaccurate, unfair and offensive by stating that a predicted influx of asylum seekers would “flood the suburbs”.
The Council concluded the words connoted an overwhelming and adverse impact on the community which was misleading and unfair. Accordingly, the Council upheld the complaint. A complaint that the accompanying photograph conveyed unfairly negative connotations was not upheld.
The Press Council has considered complaints that an opinion piece referring to sexuality as a choice was inaccurate and offensive. The Council considered that, although the article was likely to cause widespread offence, the newspaper was entitled to publish it provided that, due to its likely impact, a competing view was published promptly. In some circumstances, immediate publication of a different view may be essential.
The Council concluded these requirements had been met to an acceptable degree in the print edition, but the online version had not provided links to the article expressing the competing view. Accordingly, the complaint was upheld in relation to the online version but not the print version.
The Press Council has considered a complaint that the newspaper’s coverage of the effects of wind farms, including possible damage to health, was unbalanced.
The Council shared some of Ms Rovensky’s concerns about the limited attention given to a Senate report highlighting the need for further research and State Government’s changes to planning appeal rights, but it concluded that, overall, the complaint about lack of balance should not be upheld.
The Press Council has considered a complaint by the Solicitor-General, Stephen Gageler, that a correction to an erroneous front-page report was not sufficiently prominent to remedy damage to his reputation. The correction was made the following day in a small box at the bottom corner of page 2, acknowledging that the High Court had not criticised Mr Gageler.
The Council welcomed the prompt correction but upheld the complaint that it was not sufficiently prominent to be likely to be seen by people who saw the original article.
The Press Council has considered a complaint by a school principal that an article about local schools being “ripped off” by “rorting” of the BER program was inaccurate and damaged his school’s reputation. Mr Shaw said the newspaper was aware his own views had changed since he made critical comments about the building work about 15 months earlier.
The Council upheld the complaint, concluding there was not sufficient ground for the article’s implication that Mr Shaw had supported allegations of rorting and that the newspaper should have sought an up-to-date comment from Mr Shaw. It also should have printed his letter to the editor or sought agreement on an edited version.
The Press Council has considered a complaint by a Brisbane City councillor about a report of a Council meeting she attended.
The Council concluded the website was inaccurate in stating that Cr Johnston accused the Chair of the meeting of being corrupt. In upholding that aspect of the complaint, it noted that great care must be taken before saying that a person has made a serious allegation of that kind. It said a separate assertion in the article that she refused to apologise to another councillor was not so clearly inaccurate or unfair that this aspect of the complaint should be upheld.
The Press Council has considered a complaint that the newspaper’s coverage of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was unbalanced. Ms Smith said it favoured people who argue medication is being over-prescribed and did not give enough attention to experts and people who, like her, have family experience of the benefits of the medication. The newspaper offered to consider publishing a letter from Ms Smith but she said they should approach experts.
The Council said there might have been some imbalances but there are many circumstances that justify a greater emphasis being given to particular perspectives in the coverage of an issue. In this instance, it concluded that any differences were within justifiable limits and accordingly the complaint was not upheld.
The Press Council has considered a complaint from a former Minister about an article describing him as having attempted to “censor” internet blog forums. He said this misrepresented his attempt to extend to the internet a law that during election periods letters to the editor must bear the author’s name. He also said the newspaper refused to publish his response to the article.
The Council upheld the complaint, concluding there were strong grounds for regarding the term “censor” as inaccurate or unfair in this context, and in any event, having used such a strong and disputable term, the newspaper should have published his letter.
The Press Council has considered a complaint that three separate articles in June and July 2011 about aspects of the National Broadband Network (NBN) were inaccurate. The complaint was that the first article understated the number of NBN customers taking up offers, the second misstated the costs of not taking up current NBN offers, and the third made misleading comparisons of the costs of connections.
The Council upheld all three complaints on the basis they were inaccurate and, in two instances also misleading and unfair, and that the errors were not corrected promptly when brought to the newspaper's attention.
Council has considered a complaint about an article concerning the war between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers). The description of an incident in which Tamil leaders, allegedly under a white flag, were killed by government troops was said to be inaccurate.
The Council concluded that the description was misleading and lacking in balance because, although saying a UN report rejected the government's version of some events during the period, it did not point out the UN explicitly said it could not reach a conclusion about the white flag incident. The complainant also said the reporting of a named official was unfair by casting him as a likely war criminal, yet not specifying any law he may have broken. The Council dismissed this aspect of the complaint because the official had been quoted extensively in his defence in a front-page article in the same edition.
The Press Council has considered a complaint that a front-page pointer to a court report of an incident involving a single asylum seeker making a threat to kill Australians had erroneously referred to "asylum seekers" making the threats. The newspaper did not correct the error when it was pointed out, but offered the reader an opportunity to have a letter to the editor published.
The Council concluded it was a serious inaccuracy requiring immediate correction. A letter to the editor would have been insufficient. Accordingly, it called on the newspaper to take the remedial action which should have been taken at the time.
The Press Council has considered a complaint by the wool industry's peak body, AWI, that an article about aspects of its governance was inaccurate and misleading.
The Council concluded that the description of recent rearrangements contained a number of errors which, although not seriously misleading, needed to be corrected. Only some of them had been corrected by the newspaper prior to the adjudication. The complaint was upheld on that ground and the Council called on the newspaper to correct the remaining errors. The Council concluded AWI had not established that the article’s account of a conflict of interest amongst directors, and the Board’s response thereto, was inaccurate or misleading. Accordingly, that aspect of the complaint was dismissed
The Press Council has considered a complaint that print and online headlines on reports of a protest about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against the Israeli government were inaccurate and presented opinion as fact. The print headline was "Anti-Jew protest condemned" and the online headline was "Prominent Australians fight anti-Semitism with hot chocolate". The complainant said the BDS protests were against Israeli government policies, not "anti-Jew" or "anti-Semitic".The Council upheld the complaint about the print headline because it presented opinion as fact and misrepresented the tenor of the article. The Council dismissed the complaint about the online headline because it could be reasonably read as describing the opinions of the prominent Australians, not as a statement of fact.
The Press Council has considered a complaint that the words "Executive Education: Can women be ‘taught’ to lead?" on a magazine's front cover were offensive, largely in implying women are inherently incapable of leadership. The words related to a following article in the magazine about how much emphasis should be placed on leadership courses as a way of increasing the number of women in executive positions.The Council concluded the words could reasonably be interpreted as having the meaning complained of or as conveying the same unobjectionable message as the article itself. Accordingly, it did not uphold the complaint, though it emphasised the need for care to avoid using words which might cause great offence even without an intention to do so.