New Zealand Law Society - Anti-depressants article was misleading says Media Council

Anti-depressants article was misleading says Media Council

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The Media Council – formerly the Press Council - has upheld a complaint about a feature on anti-depressants.

The article was pulled from the website before the Council had made its decision, leading to one of the authors saying this threatened the freedom of the press.

The Future Learning section of NewsRoom contains articles from academia and researchers writing on their areas of expertise. Within this section an article headlined ‘A case against antidepressants’ was published on February 14, 2018.

The complainant, Ronan Whyte, told the Council the article was “misleading” and “could result in harm to both the general public and vulnerable persons with depression”. 

NewsRoom took nearly seven weeks to reply substantively to the complaint. During that period the article was removed from the website. A co-author was concerned about that move, while the complaint process was still going on, saying it threatened freedom of the press and the group’s academic freedom.

The Media Council agreed that there were words, meanings and viewpoints identified in the article that differ from the words in the supplied research. Furthermore, they agreed the authors misrepresented MedSafe’s opinion regarding the side-effects of anti-depressants.

The Media Council noted that in making its ruling it was focusing on the parts of the complaint that come within its mandate around the accuracy of the reporting and leaving the more complex scientific debate to the scientists.