Dear Editor,

Following on from my earlier letter, the Press referred to the three “leading candidates” (Minto, Dalziel and Park) as “Mayoral hopefuls”. But that has now gone and it is back to “leading candidates”. And no independent poll has been published to support this ongoing contention.

Since then there have been a number of Press stories featuring Minto, Dalziel and Park with the latest being the incumbent Mayor Ms Dalziel having moved into the Christchurch CBD just 5 minutes from the council so she can walk to work (must think she is going to win) and Mr Park intending to move into the CBD. The Press knows that I already live in the CBD. But I am not “newsworthy”. 

I contacted the Press bringing to their attention that five of my signs around town had gone missing. The editorial assistant said that my experience would be forwarded on to their team. I heard nothing further. The very next day the Press published an article about two ethnic candidates having had their signs defaced. The fact that my signs (as a white caucasian male) had gone missing was not reported as part of this article or any other article. 

I complained to the editor Kamala Hayman. She acknowledges my discussion with the Press over my signs having gone missing. I have also continued to complain about the ongoing “leading candidates” description and lack of coverage given to the other Mayoral candidates. 

As the campaigning is drawing to a close and voting is underway, any change in policy on the part of the Press to report on other candidates now will likely be ineffective. So what can be done?

This situation cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. In the event that I do not win, I will make a claim in the Disputes Tribunal against the Press (Fairfax Media) for all my costs that I have incurred in running my Mayoral campaign. Along the way, I have put on notice other prospective Defendants who refused to invite other than the “leading candidates” to the Mayoral debate functions that they organised. One of those is Generation Zero. 

A ruling in the Disputes Tribunal in my favour just might change our democratic process and hold the media to account. It could potentially have a profound effect on election reportage going into the future.

Yours sincerely,

Robin McCarthy

Christchurch Mayoral Candidate.


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