Today the Broadcasting Standards Authority has upheld complaints by Damon Harvey and Anna Lorck against Mediaworks regarding two news items by Newshub in January this year. These items were in relation to the delayed rocket launch from the Māhia Peninsula.
The Harvey Lorcks said: “We are pleased that an independent tribunal has agreed with our concerns regarding Newshub’s unfair and inaccurate reporting. We believe viewers were deliberately misled.”
“We think it is appropriate that Mediaworks has been fined for its conduct, and that the BSA has ordered Newshub to broadcast its findings at the beginning of its Newshub 6pm edition, and to arrange for its publication in our local regional newspaper Hawke’s Bay Today.”
“We are pleased that the decision will now likely be used as a case example for media around the dangers of relying on social media to form the basis of news stories.”
“When the founding pillars of journalism – accuracy and fairness – are abused, it drags the media into the gutter of creating its own fake news.”
Mr Harvey and Ms Lorck have also resolved to take legal action against Mediaworks.
They said: “Unfortunately, despite the BSA’s clear findings, Mediaworks have failed to recognise the substantial reputational harm they have caused.”
Mr Harvey is a councillor of the Hastings District Council (Hastings-Havelock North Ward), as well as a business leader in Hawke’s Bay and the chairman of Sport Hawke’s Bay.
The couple said Newshub’s attitude to date had been insulting and dismissive.
“When we approached them for a correction and asked for an apology, they refused and were dismissive of our indication that we would seek legal advice.”
“We believe Newshub has acted irresponsibly and unethically by manipulating social media posts and editing quotes to fit its own news agenda. They showed no duty of care towards ourselves or our family.”
Mr Harvey added: “I was attacked on social media and have had to tell the real story to friends, family, business owners and rate payers constantly, as has my wife Anna and our children. It has caused the whole family considerable distress.”
As a result, the Harvey Lorcks said they have been left with no choice but to instruct defamation specialists Peter McKnight and Ali Romanos to issue proceedings in the High Court at Napier.
It will now be for a judge or jury to determine what level of compensatory and punitive damages need to be paid.
“Out of respect for the court process, we will not be making any further comment,” they said.
The BSA media release is here