Press Council reprimands The Advertiser for misleading headline about SA premier Jay Weatherill

The Australian Press Council has censured South Australia’s The Advertiser for misleading the public in a story related to SA premier Jay Weatherill and energy minister Josh Frydenberg.

Published on 17 March in The Advertiser’s print edition as “BLOWING HIS FUSE: Sparks fly as Premier ambushes minister but exclusive polls reveal SA blames Jay for power crisis” and an online version titled “As Jay Weatherill confronts Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, poll shows he’s to blame for SA’s power crisis”, the article featured a survey poll from Galaxy Research.

Galaxy Research’s survey poll which appeared in the print edition of The Advertiser.

The article contained a table which included the question: ‘In your opinion, who is mostly to blame for South Australia’s high power prices and blackouts?’ and the responses ‘The Weatherill Government’ (39%) ‘The National Energy Market Operator/AEMO’ (35%), ‘Uncommitted’ (16%); and The Turnbull Government, (10%).

However, Galaxy Research’s survey was a sample of three electorates and did not involve key marginal seats.

The Advertiser argued opinion polls conducted by Galaxy Research were “highly reputable” and the opinion poll was reported in an “accurate, fair and balanced way.”

It added the electoral seats polled were specifically chosen because of their crucial importance for the state election in March 2018 and this was the first poll conducted under new electoral boundaries redrawn after the 2014 election.

The publication said readers would have understood that the headlines in both the print and online editions summarised the findings, and it had offered the complainant an opportunity to submit a letter to the editor addressing concerns, however, the offer was not accepted.

The Press Council noted while the article had made clear the position of the voters, it was not done so “in a manner sufficient to redress the inaccuracy and misleading nature of the headline and first paragraph.”

While it said The Advertiser did not fail to take reasonable steps to ensure fairness and balance, the Press Council told the publication it had not taken the right steps to ensure the first paragraph and headline did not mislead readers, nor had it published a letter to remedy the inaccuracy.

The Press Council upheld the complaint arguing the articles were misleading and inaccurate, as they implied as a fact South Australians blamed the Premier for the state’s power crisis.


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