The Australian newspaper shouldn’t have used the phrase “Violent Islam” in a headline about a car attack in Melbourne, Australia in 2017, the Australian Press Council ruled.
The Australian’s November 2018 headline, “Violent Islam strikes Bourke Street” reported on a “terrorist who drove a burning ute into the heart of Melbourne’s Bourke Street yesterday and stabbed three people, killing one, had links to Islamic terrorist, was a person of interest to Victoria Police and was known to federal intelligence agencies.”
The Australian defended its headline, saying it was trying to refer to “a violent arm of an otherwise peaceful religion” and “as a qualifier to clarify that Islam as a whole is not responsible for this attack,” the press council reported.
But, the press council rejected that argument saying, “readers could also infer from the headline that “violent” is being used a descriptor for Islam generally and as such, the headline may give an impression that the religion of Islam as a whole is responsible for the Bourke Street attack.”
“The Council considered that in not making it sufficiently clear that the “violent” descriptor referred to the conduct of the attacker and not Islam as a whole, the publication did not take reasonable steps to present factual material in the headline with reasonable fairness and balance,” the council ruled, finding the headline was unfair and offensive.
The Australian’s publisher, News Corp. Australia, declined to comment to iMediaEthics.