The Australian Press Council has ruled that the Courier-Mail’s coverage of transgender Mayang Prasetyo’s murder in Teneriffe, Brisbane last October was “gratuitous”.
The tabloid led the story with a sensational “Monster Chef and the She Male” headline along with a picture of the victim wearing a bikini.
The coverage continued inside, on pages 4 and 5, with another salacious headline, “Ladyboy and the butcher” with additional pictures from an “escort website” and the victim in a white swimsuit.
Q News, along with many others, was quick to condemn the paper’s treatment of the story.
The Australian Press Council (APC) considered that the prominent treatment given to the victim’s gender, and the repetitive detail of her sex work, was gratuitous and contributed to the substantial offence caused by the terminology used to describe the murder victim.
“This was not sufficiently warranted in the public interest,” it found.
“For the same reasons, Ms Prasetyo’s death was presented in a manner that was not reasonably fair and balanced.”
In doing so, the Courier-Mail had breached the council’s Standard of Practice (Principles 3 and 6).
The paper referred to Prasetyo – who is alleged to have been killed and dismembered by her partner Marcus Volke – as a she male, a prostitute and a hooker wife, and also included the headline “Killed and cooked trans woman was high-class sex worker”.
The paper told the APC it had published as “prominent editorial” the day after the controversial front page splash an article headed “Victim’s memory should be valued”, saying it had “no intention of diminishing” the life of the victim.
It also said in the two weeks following the publication of the articles, a number of letters and articles critical of the publication were published.
The council agreed, saying the paper had tried to make amends by publishing an opinion piece by the Australian Transgender Support Association Queensland.
“The council notes the steps taken by the publication to address the complaints and commends it for its work to ensure such issues are covered sensitively in future.”