The Courier-Mail Got Let Off The Hook For Their Race-Bait “Enemies Of The State” Front Page

The paper doxxed two Black teenagers last year, who then faced racist attacks.

Courier-Mail Racism

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Queensland’s The Courier-Mail has been let off the hook by the Australian Press Council after doxxing two black teens last year.

The newspaper splashed two girls’ faces, names, and workplaces on its front page with the words ‘Enemies of the State’, after the 19-year-olds were fined for breaching public health orders back in July 2020. At the time, NewsCorp hadn’t released the identities of other people at the heart of previous COVID scares, including a Melbourne couple who didn’t self-isolate after returning from an Aspen ski trip — prompting questions as to whether race played a role in thecoverage.

The two young women had been fined $4000 each for failing to self-isolate after a COVID test, crossing state borders, and not cooperating with authorities after being in an identified hotspot.

The APC reached their decision on Thursday to dismiss an unknown number of complaints made against the publication. They acknowledged the headline was “provocative given the language used and the prominence of the women’s images alongside it”, but said that the two girls’ “reasonable expectations of privacy had been diminished”.

“The Council notes that, at the time of publication, it was a matter of public record that the women in question had been charged with criminal offences related to their failure to comply with COVID-19 travel restrictions”.

They also adjudicated that the reporting was not due to any personal characteristic of the women involved whatsoever. Despite this, both teens faced a trial by social media, copping racist attacks online.

The backlash extended into Brisbane’s wider African diaspora, with reports of migrant communities being sent abusive messages, having their home details posted publicly, and being told to ‘go back to where they came from’ after the story came out.

The Courier-Mail responded saying it couldn’t anticipate nor be held accountable for any external response to their front page. Yet, the mainstream media’s name-and-shame approach throughout the pandemic has proven to be an exercise in public humiliation — a careless pick-and-choose witch hunt, which at times have even seen individuals wrongly accused and scapegoated.