Breaking Views reports on an advertisement that Stuff won’t publish:
Two Stuff publications, the Whangarei Leader and the Bay Chronicle have refused to publish an advertisement from Democracy Northland.
This is despite the advert being cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as being factually correct, despite the editors of each of the two publications initially accepting the ad’, Stuff confirming the booking and accepting payment. The papers reversed their position just a day before the advertisements were to appear.
The only explanation received to date is from the sales rep who says:
“Their decision [a three-member editorial panel] is based primarily off the core values that we are paying extra attention to at this given time. Particularly with our current value realignment, they believe the ad may not align with the message that the company is trying to push forward at this stage. While I appreciate that there should be a certain element of freedom of voice within all publications, it appears that at this time our editorial team is being extra cautious with what is going into our papers due to the sensitive nature of our current value realignment.”
We have asked for a written decision from the editorial panel. That is awaited (as is the refund!).
We are obviously outraged at the decision to block the ad’, and more so because the advertisement was about democracy and did not go into the merits or otherwise of race-based seats. All we want is for everyone to have a say on the matter – it’s what we understand by the meaning of democracy. That clearly does not align with the realignment values of the Whangarei Leader and the Kerikeri Chronicle.
To view the ad’ click here: Its about democracy
Stuff is a private business and has the right to refuse an advertisement.
But it is also a media outlet that ought to foster free speech, as Point of Order Points out:.
. . . Just three principles were to be included in a treaty: Justice, Fairness and Good Faith.
The principles of participation, partnership and protection (which Stuff and increasing numbers of other authorities find compelling) are modern political-social constructs.
But they are potent constructs, often invoked without challenge to change the way we are governed and administered.
Now (in the absence of a Stuff denial) they are being invoked by an influential component of our free press to suppress an expression of opinion.
Muzzling opinions because they conflict with the opinions of editorial managers would be perturbing at the best of times. Muzzling them when democratic governance arrangements are the critical matter at issue is shameful.
The papers could be given credit for standing on their principles at the cost of advertising revenue.
But are those principles are correct and should they trump free speech?