Sydney Uni’s Student Paper Has Devoted A Whole Edition To Trolling ‘The Australian’
"If people at the Oz can’t take a joke or legitimate criticism then perhaps they should reassess their dogmatic approach to ‘free speech’."
There’s a common phrase you hear in Australian student media that prompts editors and writers of university publications to make the most of their time, turning their weirdest and most divisive ideas into a reality: “you’ll never have this much freedom with a publication ever again”.
This has inspired an incredible history of activism and controversy. In recent years it’s led to UNSW’s Tharunka taking aim at Fred Nile with the headline “Church Fucks Women” splashed across their front page, and inspired Honi Soit to print 18 close-up unedited shots of students’ vulvas. I was an editor of the University of Melbourne’s Farrago the year Tony Abbott came into power so we landed ourselves in Andrew Bolt’s blog at least once.
But I don’t think this great shit-stirring tradition has ever resulted in something quite as beautiful as this. Honi Soit, the student newspaper of the University of Sydney, has devoted their final edition of 2016 to trolling The Australian.
Spanning a full 16 pages, the paper is designed in the exact style of the News Corp broadsheet and played incredibly straight throughout. Its satirical headlines include “Pauline Hanson tells Muslim Australians to ‘love it or build a new nation underground'”, “Female politicians crush tiny ant men with their big lady shows”, and “Mike Baird reverses Chris Kenny dog fucking ban”.
The latter headline references one of the most high-profile defamation cases in Australian comedy, almost like a dare.
When approached for comment by Crikey’s media editor Myriam Robin, Honi Soit‘s editorial team issued a joint statement denying responsibility for the paper. “Some have attempted to say this event is some sort of prank orchestrated by us. This is untrue: we still do not know who put the papers there.”
“Regardless, as a team, we have always admired The Australian for its balanced reporting and insightful commentary, and are pleased that its respectable, broadsheet pages are appearing in stands we spent the year filling with left-wing smut.”
Only a week after our final edition and the University cuts our distribution deal. Rude. pic.twitter.com/QG4mIZ6Rao
— Honi Soit (@honi_soit) October 26, 2016
Speaking with Junkee, the editors have however been a little more frank. They stated this is something they’ve been thinking about for some time and feel the criticism is warranted as a reaction to the paper’s consistent mistreatment of already marginalised communities. Once the issue was approved by the university’s students’ representative council — a requirement of its funding and publication — the eds pumped out all the edition’s content in under a week.
Despite the inflammatory nature of what’s been published, they remain pretty confident about the potential of any legal action from News Corp. “If people at The Oz can’t take a joke or legitimate criticism, then perhaps they should reassess their dogmatic approach to ‘free speech’,” a Honi editor told us.
It seems like they may be safe for the moment. The CEO of The Australian has expressed begrudging support for the spoof on Twitter and it’s even copped a shoutout from columnist James Jeffrey in the paper today.
— Nicholas Gray (@NicholasGray) October 27, 2016
— tom joyner (@tomrjoyner) October 27, 2016
It should also be noted that today’s edition of The Australian featured a cartoon of the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, depicted as a Nazi so… you know, they’re not that far off.
Feature image via Tom Joyner/Twitter.
You can read the full issue here or pick up a copy from the University of Sydney campus this week. Also, while you’re at it, check out some of the other stuff Honi Soit have done throughout the year. Their reporting of sexual assault on campus has been particularly great.