Word has it that the Press Council will tomorrow uphold the complaint laid against the New Zealand Herald by the Coalition for Open Government that the Herald’s December 4 front-page editorial headed “Speak now or forever hold your peace in 2008” was misleading.
The Herald’s editorial attacking the Electoral Finance Bill implied that anyone who wished to make any political comment would have to register as a third party, but omitted a key fact. This only applies to those who want to spend more than $12,000 on making their point.
This omission greatly exaggerated the effect of the Bill on freedom of speech, as very few people or organisations actually do spend above this level. In other words, it was an alarmist beat-up.
COG is to be congratulated for raising this and following it through. Open Government does require a Fourth Estate that can be relied on to report accurately, and if the Herald wants to campaign it should do so on the basis of the whole truth.