New Zealand public radio apologizes for releasing “pro-Kremlin garbage” when wire stories changed 2023

The president of New Zealand’s public radio station apologized Monday for posting “pro-Kremlin garbage” on its website after more than a dozen wire reports on the Ukraine war were edited.

Reuters wrote most of the pieces, which stretch back over a year, while Radio New Zealand added Russian propaganda. An RNZ digital journalist is on leave pending an employment inquiry.

The taxpayer-funded RNZ’s chief executive, Paul Thompson, said it uncovered flaws in 16 pieces and was republishing them on its website with corrections and editor’s comments. He ordered an external editorial assessment.

“So disappointing. I’m devastated. It hurts. “It’s shocking,”

Thompson said it had forensically checked 250 stories since being informed Friday and will analyze thousands more.

Casual readers would have missed several of the word modifications. “Russia annexed Crimea after a referendum” and “neo-Nazis had created a threat” were added.

After Russia took Crimea, the referendum was a farce and unrecognized. Since 2014, Russia has linked Ukraine’s authorities to Nazism. Jewish Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy furiously denies them.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark tweeted that the national broadcaster could do better.

“Extraordinary that Radio New Zealand has so little editorial oversight that someone employed by/contracted to them was able to rewrite online content to reflect pro-Russia stance without senior staff noticing,” she said. “Accountability?”

Thompson said Nine to Noon that RNZ only needed one person to edit wire service reports because they had previously been heavily edited. But RNZ was already censoring such stories again.

He apologized to listeners, readers, staff, and Ukrainians.

“It’s so disappointing that this pro-Kremlin garbage has ended up in our stories,” Thompson said Nine to Noon. “It’s inexcusable.”

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