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Press Council: Statement Of Principles

Announcing the adoption by the New Zealand Press Council of a Statement of Principles, Sir John Jeffries the Council's Independent Chairman, said today the principles had been worked out over a period of 18 months following wide canvassing of opinions and research. Some of the wording was subject of quite vigorous debate and controversy.

The Statement of Principles comprises a preamble and lists 13 principles.

In its preamble it states: "There is no more important principle than freedom of expression. In a democratically governed society the public has a right to be informed, and much of that information comes from the media. Individuals also have rights, and sometimes they must be balanced against competing interests such as the public's right to know.

"The print media is jealous in guarding freedom f expression not just for publishers' sake but more importantly, in the public interest. In complaint resolution by the Council, freedom of expression and public interest will play dominant roles."

The Press Council, founded in 1972, to provide the public with an independent forum for resolution of complaints against the press, comprises six members representing the public, two appointed by the Newspaper Publishers' Association, two representing the journalists' union and a representative of the Magazine Publishers' Association. Its independent chairman is Sir John, a former judge of the High Court and a former Police Complaints Authority.

Until now the Council has not issued a formal document setting out the principles it is guided by in complaint resolution. Sir John said the principles do not amount to a rigid code, but can be used by complainants should they wish to provide a more precise guide to the nature of their complaints.

"In arriving at the final wording of the statement members of the Council believe they have got it right and that the principles will be a useful guide for both the public and the industry," Sir John said today. "We will look at the Statement again after 12 months to see how it worked in practice and whether any changes are required."

ENDS....

MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE NEW ZEALAND PRESS COUNCIL

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