AN apology issued by the Courier Mail over their front page coverage of Mayang Prasetyo’s death has been described as “not good enough” by trans* advocates.
Thousands of grieved and angered voices from around the country continue to criticise the Courier Mail over Tuesday’s front page that featured a picture of a bikini-clad Prasetyo next to a headline that contained the phrase “she male” as well as their reporting of the story inside the print edition with another headline: “Ladyboy and the Butcher.”
The paper was accused of “sickening” and “gutter” journalism, transphobic sensationalism and delegitimising sex work along with doing harm to the mental wellbeing of vulnerable LGBTI community members.
In an update to Prasetyo’s ongoing story where the publication revealed Prasetyo’s partner and killer, Marcus Volte was also a sex worker, the Courier Mail published a statement at the end of the story saying that the publication never meant to dishonour her memory.
Trans* activists have said that the statement failed to acknowledge any mistake and harm caused by the paper.
“The apology published by the Courier Mail this morning did not acknowledge the Code of Conduct, nor admit fault in their reporting,” a spokesperson for the trans* group responsible for yesterday’s change.org petition, told the Star Observer.
“Merely explaining that people felt they had reported wrongly.
“This apology does not come close to fixing the harm that this reporting has done to Mayang’s friends and family, or the long term effects against the trans community and sex worker community. This is not good enough.”
The group had created the petition yesterday due to an apparent complete lack of respect for trans* people and sex workers.
“When the petition was first set up it was as a response to the Courier Mail’s lack of respect coupled with blatant transphobia and sex worker phobia splashed across the front page,” the spokesperson said.
“It was apparent that the articles being published were not in line with the Courier Mail’s Code of Conduct. The community response to such sensationalised reporting and the sexualisation of a murdered woman was immediate and huge, spanning across Australia and also across the globe.
“The petition is up to 21,700 signatures of people who agree that the Courier Mail should follow their Code of Conduct and desist from perpetuating transphobia and sex worker phobia in their publications.”
Other media outlets across the country have also come under criticism for emphasising and sensationalising Prasetyo’s gender identity, with some questioning the need to mention it at all.
The Australian Press Council has also acknowledged they have received a complaint about the front page.
Since Courier Mail’s coverage of Prasetyo’s murder, several Brisbane cafés have announced they would be boycotting the publication.
The owner of Bowerbird Café in Wavell Heights said that a boycott was “the least I can do to show my disgust towards [the front page] of the Courier Mail”.
The owners of another café, Shutter & Brew in Chermside, issued a similar statement, calling the front page “horrible” and accusing the paper of “over-sensationalised bad news”.
Two Brisbane gay-owned businesses – Slightly Twisted Espresso Lounge in Nundah and She Bangs Coffee in Albion – have refused to stock copies of the Courier Mail for months due to disagreements over the paper’s editorial content and direction.
“Our decision to boycott the paper over a year ago was just reaffirmed by yesterday’s awful front page,” Slightly Twisted’s Peter Coughran told the Star Observer.
So far only one Courier Mail journalist, John McCarthy, has spoken publicly about the controversial “she male” front cover, saying on Twitter that he was “proud” of “backing a great story”.
Criticism of the journalist soon followed and resulted in a Twitter exchange where McCarthy appeared to make a thinly-veiled homophobic remark.
The Courier Mail’s editor Christopher Dore has been contacted over the overwhelming response from across the country for the paper’s front page, and for McCarthy’s tweets, to issue a formal apology.
A reply was yet to be received at the time of print.
A vigil organised by members of the Brisbane trans* community for Prasetyo will be held at 5pm on Friday in New Farm park to commemorate her memory along with highlighting violence, abuse and discrimination often faced by the trans* and sex worker communities. More information here.