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1080 poison dumping story was inaccurate, rules Media Council

02 October 2018

The Media Council says a Newshub article headlined ‘Exclusive; 1080 dumpsite uncovered in Stewart Island national park’ was also unbalanced.

The story reported that a large amount of the poison had been dumped in a swamp by a Department of Conservation contractor and this had the potential to kill hundreds of animals. One of the article’s claims was “… if the 1080 hits the ground it will kill anything that eats it – including our indigenous kiwi. Even eating insects or bugs that have ingested it can harm them.”

The complainant, Simon Fraser, said the article was unbalanced and inaccurate. He claimed it is incorrect to say 1080 kills everything and that it is eaten by insects and travels up the food chain. There have been no known incidents of kiwi deaths from 1080. Furthermore, he said, when dumped in water 1080 breaks down swiftly, so implying that it was a massive risk to native animals was misleading. He also said the article lacked balance as it did not provide an opportunity for qualified scientists to refute the anti-1080 campaigners’ statements.

Newshub’s owners MediaWorks said the article’s characterisation of the risk 1080 presents to wildlife was not misleading and denied it was unbalanced. It said DoC’s acting deputy director general for operations was interviewed, as was an employee of the contractor responsible for the 1080 dumps and the article included the perspective of several other experts.

The Media Council said, while Mediaworks’ response was that the reporter sought expert opinions from an ecologist and two toxicologists, the article does not report their views and Mediaworks gave the Council no information to support its contention that the article “accurately characterised the threat 1080 poses to kiwi.” The complaint of inaccuracy was upheld.

The council also upheld the complaint of imbalance as the article did not provide the opportunity for qualified scientists to refute the clearly contentious claim that 1080 will kill everything including kiwi.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019