Refund expected after editor’s Maori ward advert whinge

Stuff should refund money paid for an advert after the editor of the newspaper in which it appeared publicly criticised it, Hobson’s Pledge spokesperson Don Brash said today.

The advertisement, paid for by the controversial lobby group Hobson’s Pledge in the North Taranaki Midweek newspaper, asked readers to collect signatures calling for a referendum on the establishment of a Maori ward at the New Plymouth District Council.

The advertisement was booked in the name of Hobson’s Pledge that has advertised with Stuff for around four years, Dr Brash said.

The names of contact persons were included in the advert, as was an address that was clearly not a Stuff address.

If the newspaper thought for a minute that readers may not realise that the advertisement was an advertisement, it could have placed the word “advertisement” at the top of the advertisement, Dr Brash said.

This is surely a unique situation, when a newspaper accepts money for an advertisement, knowingly publishes the advert, and then publishes a story complaining that the advertisement was misleading, he said.

If the role of a news organisation is to both inform and facilitate fair and robust discussion to allow our community to prosper, the advertisement has certainly succeeded, as has Stuff’s original decision to publish it, Dr Brash said.