PMSA complaint to the Australian Press Council

In the last year, the PMSA has been subject to significant scrutiny in articles by The Courier-Mail, many of which contained misleading and false information about our schools.

On a number of occasions, we wrote to The Courier-Mail to correct this information. We also directly communicated with our PMSA community during that period in an attempt to clarify information.

After a spate of articles in February 2018, we reported The Courier-Mail to the principal body responsible for responding to complaints about Australian media – The Australian Press Council.

These began with an article quoting a report by a “forensic accountant”. The PMSA believes that the sensationalism surrounding this incorrect and unsubstantiated article led The Courier-Mail to continue to target the PMSA in their reporting with a number of other sensationalist stories including those attacking our students’ OP achievements.  

After a rigorous complaints process and panel hearing, the Press Council has delivered their final adjudication finding that The Courier-Mail has breached their General Principles of 1 and 3 as described below:

  • General Principle 1 – Ensure that factual material in news reports and elsewhere is accurate and not misleading, and is distinguishable from other material such as opinion.
  • General Principle 3 – Ensure that factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance, and that writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts.

As quoted in the final adjudication:

“The Council considers that the description in the articles of the report writer as a “forensic accountant” or an “accountant” were inaccurate and misleading. The Council considers the qualification of “forensic accountant” attributed to the report writer gave the claims in the report a level of credibility that would not be associated with the qualifications of the report writer. Accordingly, the Council concludes that General Principles 1 and 3 were breached in this respect.”

Please see the link to the full adjudication from The Australian Press Council. The Courier-Mail has published the findings today.

Although we were not successful in finding The Courier-Mail in breach of all the principles in our complaint, we are pleased that the primary complaint that sparked the initial media attention was upheld. We hope this has contributed to less sensationalist and more fair, balanced and correct reporting from The Courier-Mail in the future.

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