Many in the community will be aware of an article published by www.stuff.co.nz recently about Kāpiti Coast Airport.
Save Kāpiti Airport, Air Chathams and Kāpiti Aero Club had a number of concerns about omissions and inaccuracies in the article, and provided a combined response to Stuff about these.
Several corrections were made to the article by Stuff, including significantly overstating the amount of funding received by Air Chathams and including light aircraft not owned by Kāpiti Aero Club in landing fee figures. There was also an incorrect photo caption stating the airport itself needed replacing after four years, when in fact it was only routine replacement of the runway being referred to. These corrections indicate concern over the standard of reporting, however, even after the provision of information by Airport stakeholders and the corrections, the article remained in the public domain containing concerning aspects.
As an overview:
The story omits mention of the fact Kāpiti Airport earns income from commercial rents on airport land.
The article quoted a misrepresentative figure for landing fees at the airport, and airport movements were also misrepresented.
The article references the Airport cafe not operating without mentioning it being affected by COVID-19 lockdowns or now operating as a pie shop. It also omits Air Chathams offer of funding to help the cafe, which has received no response from the Airport CEO to date.
Filming took place on a quiet day with no reference to when it was filmed, or footage showing other days. Emotive footage of imagery associated with desertion (such as leaves on the ground being kicked) portrayed an unbalanced narrative. Here is a link to a different day at Kāpiti Coast Airport.
The journalist claims – “Nobody seems to be making much money out of Kapiti Airport.” The piece is not labelled as opinion and this statement is not true. For example commercial rent is omitted from mention -as described above. Air Chathams and Kāpiti Aero Club disagree with this statement.
The article also claims that there is little employment directly linked to the Airport. Air Chathams and the Aero Club do not agree, and they were not asked for comment on this.
The Airport CEO is reported walking on the runway. The story describes seeing patches and repairs. All airports need their runways maintained and replaced after certain amounts of time. It is normal and expected that the runway at Kāpiti would need replacing within a certain timeframe -which is not mentioned in the story.
The article references the Airport as land in the middle of an urban area during a housing crisis. There is no balance included about the large areas of land suitable for development to the north of the Kāpiti district, or comparison undertaken with other areas of land. There are other large blocks of land in Kāpiti’s urban areas not considered by the journalist through the same lens.
We understand it was suggested the journalist speak to other key stakeholders for the story. Kāpiti Aero Club was not contacted for comment, despite being one of the biggest stakeholders. There was also no mention of or comment sought from Save Kāpiti Airport – the community group working in partnership with key stakeholders like the Aero Club, Air Chathams and the hapu with interests in the airport.
The article mentions the fact that the Airport CEO has no aviation experience and is “not a very successful” airport chief executive – however this is not put to him for response in the article.
By making the claim that the CEO is not there to keep the airport alive because it could fit 3000 houses on it, the journalist has compromised the angle and tone of the rest of the article.
The journalist has made a claim as to what the CEO’s agenda is within an article full of references, imagery and descriptions of the airport being lonely, quiet, not making any money or requiring maintenance etc. This influences the reader to draw the conclusion that they should agree with this agenda and is therefore unbalanced.
Save Kāpiti Airport’s position is that there are many extremely strong community, hapu and stakeholder interests in an asset such as Kāpiti Airport, and any articles written must be as balanced as possible.
If you would like to raise any concerns you may personally have had over this article, we recommend you email these to Stuff’s Chief News Director – Roeland van den Bergh (firstname.lastname@example.org.