School Road Publishing
EDITORIAL PRINCIPLES, STANDARDS, AND COMPLAINTS
School Road Publishing, North & South Magazine, WOMAN Magazine and all our titles conform to the editorial standards and guidelines of The Media Council of New Zealand. These standards and guidelines also cover the online content of broadcasters TVNZ, Warner Bros Discovery, Whakaata Māori, RNZ and NZME Radio.
The standards apply to all published material in our magazines and their associated websites (including audio and video streams), to digital sites with news content, and to blogs that include editorial commentary.
The Editor is responsible for the content of all our publications, for our adherence to the standards, and for the management of complaints made to us about them.
Staff and freelance contributors to our publication are expected to follow our editorial standards, be aware of the role of the Media Council in the complaints process. Concerns about possible breaches or the potential for complaints should be referred to the Editor before publication.
School Road Publications expects that its contributors are also aware of their legal obligations as well as the standards and complaints process of the Media Council.
Accuracy Fairness and Balance
Our publications are bound by the principles of accuracy, fairness and balance, and should not deliberately mislead or misinform readers by commission or omission. In articles of controversy or disagreement, a fair voice must be given to opposition views.
There may be exceptions for long-running issues where every side of an issue or argument cannot reasonably be repeated on every occasion, and in reporting of proceedings where balance can be judged across a series of stories, rather than a single report.
Everyone is entitled to privacy of person, space and personal information, and we will respect these rights. Nevertheless, the right of privacy should not interfere with publication of significant matters of public record or public interest.
We take particular care and discretion before identifying relatives of anyone accused or convicted of crime where the reference to them is not relevant to the matter reported. Those suffering from trauma or grief call for special consideration.
Children and Young People
In cases involving children and young people we must demonstrate an exceptional degree of public interest to override the interests of the child or young person.
Comment and Fact
A clear distinction will be made between factual information and comment or opinion. An article that is essentially a comment or opinion must be clearly presented as such. Material facts on which an opinion is based should be accurate.
Distinctions between fact, conjecture, opinion or comment must be maintained – including transparency around the use of AI for the collection and presentation of content. This does not prevent rigorous analysis or interfere with a publication’s right to adopt a forthright stance or to advocate on any issue. The genre or purpose of a publication or article, for example blogs, satire, cartoons or gossip, call for special consideration in any complaint.
Columns, Blogs, Opinion and Letters
Opinion in print or an internet blog must be clearly identified as such unless a column, blog or other expression of opinion is widely understood to consist largely of the writer’s own opinions. Though requirements for a foundation of fact remain, with comment and opinion balance is not essential. Cartoons are opinion.
Letters for publication are the decision of the editors who will be guided
by fairness, balance, and public interest. Abridgement should not distort meaning.
Headlines and Captions
Headlines, sub-headings, and captions should accurately and fairly convey the substance or a key element of the report they are designed to cover.
Discrimination and Diversity
Issues of gender, religion, minority groups, sexual orientation, age, race, colour or physical or mental disability are legitimate subjects for reporting and discussion where relevant to the public interest. When we report and express opinions in these areas we should not place gratuitous emphasis on any particular category.
We have a strong obligation to prevent disclosing the identity of confidential sources. We also must take reasonable steps to satisfy ourselves that such sources are well informed and that their information is reliable. Care should be taken to ensure both we and any source or interview understand and agree over what “off-the-record” means.
Information or news obtained by subterfuge, deceit, misrepresentation or dishonest means is not permitted unless there is an overriding public interest, and the news or information cannot be obtained by any other means.
Conflicts of Interest
We must be independent and free of obligations to our news sources and avoid any situations that might compromise that independence. Where a story is enabled by advertisement, sponsorship, gift or financial inducement that should be declared. Where an author has a link to or personal direct interest in the subject matter of a story then that should be declared.
Photographs and Graphics
We take care with photographic and image selection layout and treatment. Any technical manipulation (including the use of AI) that could be misleading must be noted and explained.
Photographs showing distressing or shocking situations are to be handled with special consideration for those affected.
Correcting errors enhances our credibility and, often, will defuse complaints. Significant errors should be promptly corrected with fair prominence. In some circumstances it will be appropriate to offer an apology and a right of reply to those affected.
The Complaints Process
The Media Council provides an independent public forum for resolving complaints, promotes media freedom, and recognises the fundamental responsibility of media to maintain high standards of accuracy, fairness and balance and public faith in editorial standards. School Road Publishing follows the Media Council process and will abide by its decisions.
Editors will publish how to contact the publication to make a complaint, and how to contact the Media Council to use their complaints process. This should be done in each issue or version of the publication, for example on the editorial or letters page, or on the contacts page for websites and blogs, and on the imprint page for magazines.
The details of the NZ Media Council complaint procedure are published on its website.
Any complaint should first be made in writing to the editor within one month of publication – email@example.com .
In the case of a series of articles the complaint must be made within a calendar month of the earlier of the date from which the substance of the complaint would have been reasonably apparent to the complainant, or the publication of the last article in the series.
A complaint about non-publication of any material needs to be made within two calendar months of the date on which the request to publish was received by the publication.
Complaints which do not arise from the publication or non-publication (such as the behaviour of or representations made by a reporter, writer, or contributor) must be made within one month of the claimed incident that gave rise to the complaint.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the response or receives no response within ten working days from the date on which the editor or online publisher received the complaint, then the complaint can then go directly to the Media Council.
When the Media Council upholds a complaint the publication (print or online) must publish the Council’s own summary of its decision and reasons. The Council ensures that the decision is given ‘fair prominence’ in the publication and can direct where and how it will appear.
A website or blog should publish the Council’s decision in the section in which the original story ran. A magazine would normally publish a pointer to the decision on the first available editorial page with the full Council ruling on a later page.
The decision must be published unedited and unaccompanied by editorial comment, although publication can comment on it elsewhere. If a complaint is not upheld by the Council the publication can decide if it will publish the decision, and how.
In the case of electronic copy that the Media Council decides is enduring and inaccurate must carry a note at the top of that copy that it is incorrect and the reasons why. In cases where a potential harm outweighs the need to publish the Council may require the removal of story elements or the take down of the entire story.
Where a ruled-against article has been further published on a publication’s website, or distributed to other media, the Council requires that:
In the case of a website or social media platform, the article is to be flagged as having breached Media Council Principles, and a link to the decision must be provided on this website.
In the case of further distribution to other news media, the Media Council will provide a short statement to be published in each publication known to have published the original item.
In extreme circumstances, and with a unanimous decision, the Council can direct a right of reply, correction, retraction and censure a publication. A censure must be prominent in the publication or website.
If a complainant to the Media Council may have a legally actionable issue then they must waive their rights to take any form of proceedings, including legal action, against the publisher.
The Council may consider a complaint from a third party who is not personally aggrieved. However, it reserves the right to require the complainant to first seek the consent of the individual who is the subject of the article complained of.
Publications, websites and blogs must not give undue publicity to a complaint until the Council have resolved it. However, the fact a complaint has been made can be reported.