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RNZ: New Zealand’s national radio broadcaster ‘gutted’ for publishing ‘pro-Kremlin garbage’ in news stories | World News

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Radio New Zealand, the country’s public service radio station, has apologised for publishing “pro-Kremlin garbage” in some of its online articles.

So far, 16 stories about Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine on its website were found to have been edited to present “a false account of events”.

RNZ, which is government-funded but has editorial independence, has now made corrections to the stories, indicating the editing had changed the original stories to present pro-Russian interpretations of some events in Ukraine as fact.

The station’s chief executive Paul Thompson apologised to listeners, readers, staff and the Ukrainian community, and added: “It’s so disappointing that this pro-Kremlin garbage has ended up in our stories… It’s inexcusable.”

A digital journalist from RNZ has been placed on leave pending the result of an employment investigation.

The stories, most of which are over a year old, came from the Reuters news agency as wire copy, then were edited and published on the station’s website, which ranks among the nation’s most-viewed news sites.

Typically one person at RNZ edited the copy as the stories had already been subject to robust editing, according to Mr Thompson.

The taxpayer-funded radio station has reviewed about 250 stories with thousands more to be investigated, Mr Thompson said.

The changes included the addition of pro-Kremlin narratives like “Russia annexed Crimea after a referendum”, and that “neo-Nazis had created a threat” to Russia’s borders – the latter vehemently dismissed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is of Jewish heritage.

Meanwhile, Russia’s separation and occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 is internationally rejected, and the territory is still considered Ukrainian.

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On RNZ’s Nine to Noon show, Mr Thompson said: “It is so disappointing. I’m gutted. It’s painful. It’s shocking. We have to get to the bottom of how it happened.”

Mr Thompson said an external review of the station’s editing processes was under way and RNZ would be adding another layer of editing to similar stories.

A spokesperson for Reuters said: “Reuters has addressed the issue with RNZ, which has initiated an investigation.”

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