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APC brands Courier Mail ‘she male’ front page ‘gratuitous’ ruling it was not in public interest

The Courier Mail’s front page splash and ‘Monster chef and the she male headline’ on the murder of transgender Mayang Prasetyo has been branded “gratuitous” by the press watchdog.

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The News Corp paper drew fierce criticism over its treatment of the murder of Prasetyo by her chef boyfriend Marcus Volke with the front page splash “Monster chef and the she male” and inside headline “Ladyboy and the butcher”.

Today the Australian Press Council has published a ruling that the Brisbane paper broke two general standards with the publication, but dismissed complaints it had broken a third relating to right of reply.

In defence of its headline the paper said the victim had identified herself as “transgender” and a “ladyboy” and had also promoted herself as a “top class Asian she male”. It said “ladyboy” was a “term applied regularly to transsexuals in Asia”.

On the images used of Prasetyo in its coverage of her murder, The Courier Mail said they were taken from her public Facebook page, noting the victim had used those images to promote herself as well as asserting Prasetyo had told friends she was “proud” of them.

In response to the the complaints, The Courier Mail said it accepted the terms it had used had “evidently caused offence” and had taken several steps to address the concerns of readers.

The paper told the APC it had published as “prominent editorial” the day after the controversial front page splash headed “Victim’s memory should be valued”, saying it had “no intention of diminishing” the life of victim Prasetyo.

It also said in the two weeks following the publication of the articles, a number of letters and articles critical of the publication, including a comment piece from the Transgender Support Association of Queensland, were published.

The News Corp title also said following the coverage it had adopted the ‘how to’ guide published by the Poynter Institute, “Nine ways journalists can do justice to transgender people’s stories” and had implemented training and counselling of editorial staff to place emphasis on the need for a more “sensitive approach” to reporting such issues.

In its ruling, the APC said the “prominent treatment” given to Prasetyo’s gender, and the “repetitive detail of her sex work” was “gratuitous and  contributed to the substantial offence caused by the terminology used the describe the murder victim”.

“This was not sufficiently warranted in the public interest,” the APC ruled.

The APC ruled overall Prasetyo’s death was “presented in a manner that was not reasonably fair and balanced”.

As The Courier Mail has taken steps to address the complaints as well as making moves to ensure such issues are covered sensitively in the future the APC found there was no breach of General Principle 4 around allowing a person or group right of reply.

courier mail ress coulcil

How the Courier Mail displayed the ruling on its website

Miranda Ward

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