In its rush to get an article on the resignation of Anand Rama to print, media-giant Stuff failed to fact-check its reporting.
The paper incorrectly announced that Adam Holland – best known for dressing up as a Saudi Arabian sheikh and yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ during a mayoral debate at Shadows bar – was running for the position of AUSA president. Stuff declared this despite AUSA announcing several hours earlier that the position had already been given to George Barton. Stuff linked Holland’s campaign – and his history of making controversial and frequently insensitive remarks – to white supremacy on campus, implying it was proof of a growing movement. Stuff also posted a photo of Holland alongside their article which they led readers to believe came from a campaign video in which he announced his candidacy. A reverse image search on Facebook and Google shows that the image comes from an article on Adam Holland that was written over two years ago.
Acting AUSA President George Barton says he was “surprised” by Stuff’s story. “It would have been nice if both the journalist who wrote the piece (and Adam Holland) bothered to actually check the AUSA Facebook Page and read the post about Anand’s resignation,” he told Craccum. Barton also confirmed that the organisation had never tried to contact him about the story. “If they [had], they’d have found that the role of President isn’t available until this current Executive term is over and that elections for next year are quite far off,” he said.
This isn’t the first time AUSA has been the subject of misguided reporting. Earlier in the year, the organisation held a hui to discuss racial discrimination on campus grounds. Then-Education Vice-President George Barton asked media outlets to stay away from the hui, in order to protect the identity of those who had agreed to speak anonymously – but writers for media outlet The Spinoff disregarded his request, and published a detailed account of the meeting on the website. The story published by The Spinoff was also misleading. It implied Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon had declined an invitation to attend the meeting, but, as AUSA later pointed out, he had not been invited.
Craccum attempted to contact the author of the Stuff article for comment. Shortly after we reached out to the writer, Stuff removed the article. No reason was given for the removal, other than it did not conform with the paper’s editorial standards. At time of writing, we are yet to receive a reply.