Broadcasting Standards Authority,
Formal Complaint – MediaWorks -The Project.
I wish to lodge a formal complaint against the item titled “Euthanasia advocate Bobbie fights for peaceful death” broadcast on Tuesday 6 March 2018 on the Project. My complaint is that it breached Standard 8 –Balance and Standard 9 – Accuracy of the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
I have enclosed a copy of my complaint to the broadcaster dated 8 March and a copy of the response from the broadcaster dated 21 March.
The broadcaster claims that the item subject to complaint was broadcast as it was about to face its second reading in Parliament, this is incorrect, it was the first reading in Parliament.
The broadcaster claims that the item had balance as it included a statement from Matthew Jansen from Care Alliance, taken from an interview included in The Project’s June 2017 interview with Matthew Jansen. I do not accept that this brief statement made nine months previously in relation to another program can be presented as balance.This is misleading as it gives the impression to viewers that Matthew Jansen was responding to this interview when he was not. In my view the broadcaster had a responsibility to make it clear in the item that his comments were made in 2017.
The program included a misleading report that medical professionals are “split on the issue”, with 67% of nurses and only 37% of doctors supporting assisted dying. This result is not indicative of the attitudes of New Zealand doctors and nurses to doctors killing patients or assisting in their suicide; this was an online survey conducted by Dr Phillipa Malpus of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and two colleagues, it was an online survey conducted in May 2017, of doctors and nurses in New Zealand, only 298 doctors and 474 nurses responded. As there are more than 10,000 doctors practising in New Zealand it is untrue to say that 37% of doctors support euthanasia. In 2011 there were 49,563 registered nurses working in New Zealand, it is therefore untrue to state that on the response of 474 nurses, 67% of nurses in New Zealand support euthanasia.
It is disappointing that the broadcaster has declined to address the very important complaint of inaccuracy. The pro-euthanasia movement is aware that it is necessary to use euphemistic terms to disguise the reality of euthanasia which is all about doctors administering a lethal injection to patients with the intention of killing them or assisting in their suicide. It is my view that the broadcaster has a duty to the community to expose this insidious euphemistic language which is used to deceive the community. The community have a right to ask why the broadcaster is failing the community it is pledged to serve by not acting as a watchdog?
In conclusion, I believe that it is very unprofessional for the presenters on The Project to exhibit enthusiastic support for the contentious End of Life Choice bill when I believe the ethics of the journalism profession demand that on moral issues of great contention they should be neutral.