When Amanda Bailey complained that her interview with the NZ herald was obtained under false pretences, I said this was something that should be complained about to the Press Council. A number of people did so, and the Press Council has upheld the complaints – which is good.
Some key quotes:
33. By the time the interview had been concluded, all parties should have been quite clear about the nature of the article that was to be written. They certainly had concerns about the likely content, resulting in a departure from usual journalistic practice in the agreement to submit quotes to them for checking for accuracy. There is an element of subterfuge in Ms Glucina’s failure to ensure that they all knew she proposed to write an exclusive article for the NZ Herald.
34. While Ms Bailey was apparently willing to allow her employers to arrange the interview, there is no evidence that she either agreed or accepted that they should represent her in all dealings with Ms Glucina, the NZ Herald, or the media generally. It is significant that the only time she took the initiative and made an approach to the NZ Herald, it was through Mr Bradbury and not through her employers.
35. It is irrelevant that the photographer was introduced, or introduced himself as a NZ Herald photographer – in the light of the confusion about Ms Glucina’s status it was quite likely that the parties assumed that, as they probably believed to be the case with Ms Glucina, he did work for the NZ Herald but not exclusively. It is accepted that he said he worked for the NZ Herald as a staff photographer, but to a person unfamiliar with media practice, this would not rule out the possibility that he did other work as well.
36. It seems that by early evening Mr Currie had spoken to the café owners (or one of them) and had explained the situation. However he did not speak to Ms Bailey, nor is there any evidence that he attempted to obtain contact details for her. Once again, clarification of the basis on which the story was to be published was not a task that could be delegated, or at least not without direct authority from Ms Bailey.
And their finding:
The Press Council upholds the complaints. It finds there were elements of subterfuge in the NZ Herald’s dealings with Ms Bailey along with a failure to act fairly towards her, but more importantly it notes that it is not exclusively concerned with determining whether there has been a breach of specific principles. It may consider other ethical grounds for complaint, especially in the context of its objective of maintaining the press in accordance with the highest professional standards. In this case, it is of the view that the NZ Herald has generally fallen far short of those standards in its handling of a sensitive issue and its failure to respect the interests of a vulnerable person.
A good decision.