Press Council rules Sunshine Coast Daily’s ‘Anna You’re Next’ cover was ‘deeply regrettable’

A Sunshine Coast Daily cover which featured a photograph of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with crosshairs superimposed on her face and the headline ‘ANNA, YOU’RE NEXT’ was “deeply regrettable” and breached the general principles of the Press Council’s Standards of Practice, according to the watchdog’s ruling.

But, because the News Corp publication printed a front page apology and, after several requests, removed the digital image, no further action needs to be taken, the Press Council decided.

The Sunshine Coast Daily cover which clearly shows Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in crosshairs

A complaint was made by the Queensland government on behalf of Palaszczuk regarding the story and cover from May 20, 2019 which featured the offending image and headline. The coverage ran alongside an online article. Both stories reported that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s “demolition” of the Labor Party in Queensland suggested Palaszczuk would be the next to lose her job.

The article went on to quote a state shadow minister as saying that the election win “sent a message to Ms Palaszczuk that ‘doing nothing isn’t going to cut it for six years’”.

According to the complaint, the photograph with the superimposed crosshair had the “potential to incite violence” against the Premier, and that she felt her safety had been compromised by the story and image. The initial request was that the image be removed and that the Sunshine Coast Daily publish an apology to both Palaszczuk and its readers.

The Press Council ruled the cover was ‘deeply regrettable’

However, the complainant said the initial requests were declined, as the publication defended the image, and that the printed apology was delayed. The publication said it had completed the additional step of publishing letters to the editor which were critical of the front page.

According to the Council, the publication didn’t “intend to incite violence” with the cover, and instead was stating that the Labor Party was a political target. However, it did rule that the use of crosshairs on the photo went “beyond political comment” and suggested “potential significant violence”.

General Principle six of the Standards of Practice states that publications must take reasonable steps to “avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or a substantial risk to health or safety”, unless doing so is necessary for public interest.

The Council ruled the Sunshine Coast Daily had breached this code, but the ruling stated that due to the prominent apology, and subsequent action, no further consequences would be handed down. The ruling did say that the original decision to publish the image was “deeply regrettable”.


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