A Queensland newspaper has reacted to public outcry and apologised for its front-page image depicting a gun target over the state’s Premier.
The Queensland Government complained to the Australian Press Council after the Sunshine Coast Daily published a picture of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in crosshairs.
The superimposed picture of Ms Palaszczuk was on the front page of Monday’s paper, paired with the headline “Anna, you’re next” and “Labor rout puts Premier in crosshairs”.
After initially standing its ground, the newspaper’s editor Craig Warhurst issued a public apology.
“Today I was inundated with letters saying we got it wrong and we needed to apologise for our actions,” Mr Warhurst wrote.
“Many of the letter writers said our front page could incite attacks on women and politicians and glorified gun violence.
“At a time when domestic violence was so high on the agenda, it was unacceptable, they said.
“What the front page was seeking to highlight was Labor’s poor performance in the federal election in Queensland, and that the State Government is now in the political sights of the conservative parties in Queensland. A lot of that centres around the Adani process.
“It will be a shame if one very small image on our front page detracts from the debate this State needs to have. It will be a double shame if other media let themselves be distracted.
“That said, in retrospect, I agree it was a poor choice of imagery on the front page. We could have got the message across in a different way.
“In no way does the Sunshine Coast Daily condone any sort of violence against women or politicians.
“For those of you in the community who feel let down and betrayed by the image, I apologise.”
The apology was welcomed by from senior Nationals MP Darren Chester, who earlier called it an “appalling editorial decision”.
Thanks Sunshine Coast Daily editorial team for this apology. Admitting they got it wrong is important if we are going to achieve a more respectful debate around public figures & preventing violence.
Daily apologises for concern over front page imagery https://t.co/njy8aAoY2S
— Darren Chester MP (@DarrenChesterMP) May 21, 2019
Acting Queensland Police Minister Craig Crawford said the newspaper had put the Premier’s life at risk.
“That does incite violence. To some people out there, it is an invitation to shoot the Premier,” he said.
“There is no doubt what a person’s face in crosshairs means, and certainly from a police perspective it’s very concerning to see someone do that.”
A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk said the Premier’s Department emailed the newspaper’s publisher yesterday morning, requesting the image be removed and for an apology to be issued.
The newspaper offered an apology on Tuesday afternoon after widespread public criticism.
Since it was published, the image has been shared widely on social media by media professionals, politicians and domestic violence groups, who have criticised the publication’s editorial decisions.
‘Editor should publicly apologise’: Minister for Women
Queensland’s Minister for Women, Di Farmer, labelled the image appalling and said it was encouraging violence.
“The image says, shoot this person, you can shoot this person,” she said.
“We must show respect and this is anything but, it is taking it past what is appropriate,” she said.
Ms Farmer said the editor’s response was “missing the point”.
“I think he needs to make an apology and I think it needs to be public because this is an opportunity for the editor to actually show some leadership, the media has a really really important role to play in taking a stand on violence against women or violence against anybody in our community,” she said.