News Council ruling | Herald Sun


The Press Council decided that an article on a court report on suspected crimes partially violated its standards of practice.

The Press Council considered whether an article titled “Mill Park Fire: Samantha Knok’s allegedly detonating a homemade bomb” published online by the Herald Sun on January 21, 2021, violated its practice standard.

The article reported that “a transgender woman allegedly detonated a homemade petrol bomb in Mill Park Park, and then threw a molotov cocktail at a truck, causing several fires. Samantha Noack, 49, ) Was denied bail for the second time… A magistrate judged that she posed too much risk to public safety.” It went on to say “Noak, he was formerly known as Kenneth Kenneth, who allegedly detonated the self-made Gasoline bomb…”. The article also reported that the court learned that “Noak is a transgender woman who suffers from personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and has struggled with drug use. Her lawyer said she was particularly vulnerable in custody. Being excluded, it is recommended that she be released on bail to a temporary residence organized by a support service organization.”

In responding to the complaint, the board requested the publication to comment on whether the article meets the board’s practice standards. The standard requires the publication to take reasonable measures to ensure that factual materials are presented in a reasonable, fair and balanced manner (general principle 3); Or cause major crime, suffering or prejudice, or cause major risks to health or safety, unless doing so is fully in the public interest (General Principle 6). The Committee notes that the complaint expresses its concern, highlighting and repeatedly mentioning the defendant’s transgender identity and including the defendant’s original name. This is unfair and not in the public interest because the article stipulates that there is no relationship between the defendant’s transgender identity and gender. Associated. Suspected of a crime.

In response, the publication stated that the transgender identity of the defendant was completely related to the court proceedings on which the article was based. The publication stated that it was the defendant’s legal counsel who introduced his client’s transgender identity into the proceedings and used it as the basis for the bail application because Ms. Noak was vulnerable during detention.The publication stated that Ms. Noak’s transgender identity has been included

The magistrate will give an account when deciding whether to grant bail. The publication also stated that Ms. Noak’s former name was mentioned in the bail procedure. It stated that its litigation report is fair and accurate and does not imply that the transgender identity of the defendant is a factor in the crime.

in conclusion

The Consumer Council has long believed that publications should be extremely careful and should not overemphasize personal characteristics such as race, religion, nationality, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness or age.

The Committee noted that the article was presented as a purely factual report on bail procedures related to serious crimes. According to the publication’s response, the information in the article fairly and accurately reflects the statements made in public court. Therefore, the Council concluded that the publication complies with general principle 3.

However, although taking into account the concerns expressed by the defendant’s lawyers, the defendant’s transgender identity may be related to the bail hearing, but it does not seem to have anything to do with the crime itself. The Committee believes that including repeated and prominent references to the transgender identity of the defendant, including the failure to mention the bail procedure in the opening paragraph of the article, may lead some readers to conclude that this characteristic is either the cause or the factor of the degeneration. , Suspected of a crime, and may lead to serious prejudice against transgender people. The Consumer Council believes that the publication did not take reasonable measures to avoid causing major prejudice when it prominently pointed out that the woman was a transgender person, and there was insufficient public interest to justify this. Therefore, the Board of Governors concluded that the publication violated General Principle 6.



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About the Author: Agnes Zang