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Radio New Zealand investigates Russia-friendly editing of Ukraine articles – Guardian

12.06.2023, 14:25
Photo: Yehor Hordeyev
Photo: Yehor Hordeyev

New Zealand’s national radio broadcaster is conducting an internal investigation after evidence emerged that an employee had edited wire reporting on the Ukraine war to add Russia-friendly phrasing, writes the Guardian.

The state-funded RNZ, or Radio New Zealand, published at least four articles attributed to the Reuters wire service that had been edited to add pro-Kremlin phrasing.

The articles in question made a range of amendments: adding the word “coup” to describe the Maidan revolution; changing a description of Ukraine’s former “pro-Russian president” to read “pro-Russian elected government”; adding references to a “pro-western government” that had “suppressed ethnic Russians”; and on several occasions adding references to Russian concerns about “neo-Nazi elements” in Ukraine.

An RNZ spokesperson, John Barr, said in a statement after the first article came to public attention that “RNZ is taking the issue extremely seriously and is investigating how the situation arose. There will be no comment until that investigation is completed and any appropriate action taken.”

Two articles known to have contained altered phrasing have had editorial notes appended, reading: “This story was edited inappropriately and has been corrected. RNZ is concerned and takes this matter extremely seriously. We are investigating and have taken appropriate action.”

At least two other altered articles viewed by the Guardian had not been amended.

Megan Whelan, the head of content at RNZ, said: “RNZ is aware of instances of inappropriate editing of several wire service stories relating to the war in Ukraine published on our website. An investigation is under way into the alleged conduct of one employee. The employee has been placed on leave while we look into these matters.”

She added: “We have corrected the stories and added an explanatory note to each article. We are auditing other articles to check whether there are further problems. We will release the outcome of the audit when it is completed.”

The RNZ chief executive, Paul Thompson, said the inappropriate editing of the stories to reflect a pro-Moscow perspective was deeply concerning and would be addressed accordingly.

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