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Parking story unbalanced rules Press Council

12 September 2017

The New Zealand Press Council has partly upheld a complaint against three media outlets over a story about parking at a shopping mall.

The Stuff website, the Dominion Post and the Kapiti Observer all contained slightly different versions of a story used on 17 and 18 May about Coastland Shoppingtown’s parking policy at its Paraparaumu mall.

The stories referred to the lengthy parking conditions notice out up at the car park entrances. The stories referred to Coastlands’ policy of fining parking violators. They concluded with a brief response from Coastlands’ manager to the effect ticketing issues had been resolved and that the erection of the notices was a legal requirement.

Coastlands says the responses it gave to the reporter, which would have provided balance, were not published. Coastlands also says the story failed to mention that non-mall customers have been using the park to the detriment of mall customers or that its parking policies, which have been in place for some time, are common elsewhere.

Coastlands maintains that the story’s headlines, including “Don’t like the sign. Don’t stop here” were misleading.

The publications rejected the complaints, saying the essential story was fair and balanced. It accurately recorded mall customers’ reactions to the notice and other of Coastlands’ parking restrictions and the Coastlands’ manager’s most significant comments were published.

The publications say that “[Coastlands] needs to accept that it was customers and retailers that complained about what they felt was a heavy handed approach by centre management”.

Decision

The Press Council found that the story was not balanced in one respect. When the Coastlands’ manager was asked for comment before the story was published she mentioned the problems being caused by non-mall users who parked on site for lengthy periods thereby putting pressure on the facility. She also said Coastlands’ parking terms were similar to those at other shopping centres and if those comments had been included a more balanced picture would have emerged.

But the Council did not agree with Coastlands in relation to the headlines. The parking notice concluded with a statement to the effect that if people wishing to park did not agree with the terms then they should not park at the site. While blunt, the Council says the headlines were not misleading.

Last updated on the 12th September 2017