The Press Council has upheld a complaint against University
of Otago student newspaper Critic over an article depicting
three people the publication deemed homeless and vagrant.
Mike McAlevey, of the Otago Mental Health Support Trust,
complained the May 24 feature was inaccurate, discriminatory,
and in poor taste.
The council did not uphold Mr McAlevey's associated complaint
that an item asking five female students questions, which
included whether they would kill the three featured
"homeless" people, could incite violence.
The council also rejected Mr McAlevey's complaint that a
published apology in the newspaper was insincere.
The council held the main article was derogatory, alleged
alcoholism and drug use, vagrancy, unusual or bad behaviour.
"By publishing rumour and other details about three
easily-identified people without giving them an opportunity
to respond, or without making serious inquiries, Critic let
itself down badly," the council said.
The complaint about the related item in which students were
asked if they would have sex with, marry, or kill, the
featured trio was not upheld, on the grounds it was a regular
feature readers would not take seriously.
The council said student newspapers had a history of
provocative and even offensive material, which had been taken
The council said fabricating one of the interviews was a