Nippert slammed for tweet in Press Council finding

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Rodney Hide has partially won a Press Council complaint against the NZ Herald and Matt Nippert, one of their more dishonest reporters.

Columnist and former politician Rodney Hide has partially won a Press Council complaint against theNew Zealand Herald in which he took issue with a journalist’s personal tweet.

Mr Hide complained to the Press Council about an article by Herald business journalist Matt Nippert that covered proceedings in the High Court involving David Henderson.

The article referred to earlier proceedings and mentioned the current hearing was “undercutting many of Hide’s claims” he made in previous columns he wrote about the issue.

Mr Hide’s complaint said the article was unfair and inaccurate for a number of reasons but this complaint was not upheld.

Furthermore, Mr Hide filed a secondary complaint about a tweet on Mr Nippert’s personal Twitter account.

“Short write-up of court ruling morphed into 1600-word Greek-style epic featuring crimes, c*nts, lulz and ex-MPs. In @nzheraldbiz Saturday,” the tweet said.

Mr Hide said the tweet lacked accuracy, fairness and balance and was “offensive and displaying a lack of professionalism by a senior journalist.”

And who is having the Lulz now?

21. Turning to the complaint about the tweet, it is worth noting that this is one of the first times the Press Council has been called on to determine a complaint about this form of communication.

22. The tweet was effectively advance publicity for the article in the same way that a poster or headline is advance publicity, with the difference that the tweet was made before the article was in final form and did not go through any sort of editorial process. However, it was clearly made by the reporter in his capacity as a reporter for theNew Zealand Herald and the editor has properly taken some responsibility for it and reminded the reporter of his obligations. Moreover the tweet has been deleted, although apparently it remained accessible for some weeks.

23. For the sake of clarity, the Press Council records that the same standards apply to a tweet of this nature as apply to other published material. The tweet in question in this case was unprofessional in its inaccuracy and use of unacceptable language and certainly did not conform to the highest professional

The reality is that the Press Council are pretty toothless even though they’ve ruled that journalists’ tweets have to meet the same standards as anything else they write.

Still, I’m glad it is Nippert who got a light tickle in the nuts from the Press Council.

Nothing actually happens, though there is a formal record of his poor conduct.

At least we also now know that the Drinnan defence for tweets won’t hold water. It is certainly an interesting angle that any “these are my personal tweets and not the company’s” statements on their Twitter accounts are null and void because of this decision.


– NBR, Press Council

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