The agreement, voluntarily signed by the country’s five largest media organisations, is effectively an attempt to contain the spread of white supremacist beliefs.
Australian Tarrant has been charged with 50 counts of murder – and 39 of attempted murder. He is currently in isolation in New Zealand’s Paremoremo prison – New Zealand’s only maximum-security facility.
RNZ, TVNZ, Mediaworks, NZME and Stuff are wary of Tarrant using the trial “as a platform to amplify white supremacist and/or terrorist views or ideology.”
The agreement reads: “We are also mindful of our role as the ‘eyes and ears of the public’’ in the context of court reporting. In this instance, we acknowledge the particular importance of this function, given the many victims’ friends and families outside New Zealand who may otherwise be unable to engage in the trial process.”
Chief executive and editor-in-chief of RNZ Paul Thompson added: “I thought it was important we agreed as senior editors to be cohesive and united in terms of showing we were going to be responsible and rigorous in how we covered the trial.
“We needed to signal that we would not become a platform for hate speech, for spreading hateful ideology or being a pawn in anyone’s game.”