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Christchurch mosque shootings: Media agree on trial coverage protocols

Major New Zealand news organisations, including RNZ, have agreed to protocols for covering the trial of the person charged for the Christchurch mosque attacks.

18072016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Wellington High Court.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Brenton Harrison Tarrant faces 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder in relation to the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last month.

RNZ, Stuff, Mediaworks, TVNZ and NZME said they have agreed to guidelines for the trial so their coverage “does not promote white supremacist ideology”.

The group said they were committed to covering the trial “comprehensively and responsibly”, and were mindful of public interest in the trial in New Zealand and internationally.

They said they were also aware of the media’s role as the “eyes and ears of the public”, particularly as many of the victims’ friends and families live outside New Zealand and would not be able to access the trial process in any other way.

The accused may try to use the trial as a platform to amplify “white supremacist and/or terrorist views or ideology”, they said, so the group has agreed to follow the following protocols:

  • (a) – We shall, to the extent that is compatible with the principles of open justice, limit any coverage of statements, that actively champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology.
  • (b) – For the avoidance of doubt the commitment set out at (a) shall include the accused’s manifesto document.
  • (c) – We will not broadcast or report on any message, imagery, symbols or signals (including hand signals) made by the accused or his associates promoting or supporting white supremacist ideology.
  • (d) – Where the inclusion of such signals in any images is unavoidable, the relevant parts of the image shall be pixelated.
  • (e) – To the greatest extent possible, the journalists that are selected by each of the outlets to cover the trial will be experienced personnel.
  • (f) – These guidelines may be varied at any time, subject to a variation signed by all parties.
  • (g) – This protocol shall continue in force indefinitely.

The accused gunman is due to appear in court on 14 June.

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