NZ media to avoid white supremacist views at Christchurch trial

Leading organisations say they are aware Tarrant might try to use trial to promote white supremacist views.

A policeman stands guard as members of the Muslim community visit Al-Noor mosque after it was reopened in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 23, 2019
At least 50 people were killed in the attack on two mosques in March [Edgar Su/Reuters]

New Zealand’s major media organisations have pledged not to promote white supremacist ideology while covering the trial of the man charged with killing 50 people at two mosques in March.

The five organisations, which signed the agreement on Wednesday, said they were aware that the suspect behind the Christchurch attack, self-proclaimed white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, might try to use the trial as a platform to promote white supremacist or “terrorist” views.

The organisations said the commitment extended to coverage of Tarrant’s 74-page “manifesto”, posted online before the attack, as well as broadcasting symbolic images.

That clause came after Tarrant made a hand gesture at his first court appearance, which is sometimes associated with white supremacists. 


They will also avoid reporting on or broadcasting “any message, imagery, symbols or signals” by the accused or his associates that promote extremism.

The organisations include the country’s two main television news stations, its two major newspaper companies, and its public radio station.

Tarrant, 28, is currently being held in a maximum security prison in Auckland and undergoing psychiatric tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial.

His next scheduled court appearance is on June 14.

The New Zealand government has barred downloads of Tarrant’s manifesto and the livestream footage he posted of the attacks, although local media voluntarily avoided them before the ban anyway.

However, despite their best intentions not to spread extremist content, some New Zealand media outlets have been criticised over some Christchurch-related stories.

A provocative tweet from British right-winger Katie Hopkins about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received extensive coverage last week, prompting national broadcaster RNZ to comment: “Don’t feed the troll”.

Source: News Agencies