Courier Mail’s apology for controversial front page falls short

Courier Mail’s apology for controversial front page falls short

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.

CM fauxpology

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 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”.

Screen shot 2014-10-08 at 2.08.53 PM

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.

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9 responses to “Courier Mail’s apology for controversial front page falls short”

  1. Given the Bairnsdale Advertiser won a Gloria for linking people who are transgendered to peadophilia, you can see we all have a long road ahead of us. You can google the key words.

    It so sad to think of the horror this person suffered. Parts of the media have a long way to go.

  2. You morons do realise that “shemale” is what they are called in the sex world don’t you? Shemale porn stars have no problem with it but as usual sensitive idiots who DON’T represent the wider shemale community have to get their knickers all in a knot over NOTHING. Get a set and grow up your imbeciles and quit taking offence at every little thing.

    • “Shemale” is a derogatory term used by d***head Johns who don’t have a clue about trans identity and acceptance but want to pay to ‘get kinky’ with a transgendered sex worker. The term denotes that the woman is not accepted as a woman by the customer because of her assigned birth sex. As a sex worker, no doubt Mayang had to use the terminology used by the ignorant and inadequately socialised men who sought her services but that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable for the nation’s media to do same. Mayang lived and identified as a woman in her personal life, that’s what matters.

      • Well it chose to be a “shemale” sex worker and no doubt posted it’s services under that term. I prefer to use the term “IT” which is appropriate considering they don’t know whether they want to be a man or a woman. I also don’t give a stuff what you think of my opinion and the silly little names you no doubt will start ranting and frothing at the mouth with, i’m not a precious little darling like yourself and others who want to have a cry at name calling. I know of several gay men and shemales made of harder stuff than you who wouldn’t flinch a muscle at names called to them, they shrug it off and go on their merry way happy with themselves. They don’t need to ram their “poor little me” opinions down anyone’s throat.

        • Rex – she identified as a woman in her private life and wanted to adopt and be a mother. What part of that is too difficult for you to understand? You calling her “It” is breathtakingly ignorant.

          If you don’t give a stuff what people think of your opinions, please don’t publish them on the internet.

        • Nah, you’re just a creep “Rex”. Get a life and butt out of a debate you have no part in. If you can’t get on board with progressive social change then you might as well get out of the way, the last thing the LGBTI community needs is dinosaurs like you.

  3. It has been encouraged by the silence that follows each destructive occur acne by the incompetent fucks that run this country, Get in front of the douche bags with the badges and guns and then the delusional fucks that pass judgment and throw you in a cage, we don’t give a fuck about your intent or your apology, that shot destroys lives, when the fuck will one of the monkeys running this joint acknowledge what can’t be denied and get their head out of their ass, better still so someone can Meade it clear that shit like this is not fucking on, that it can’t and won’t be tolerated.