Newspaper apologises for coverage of 1838 Aboriginal massacre

newspaper apologises for coverage of 1838 aboriginal massacre


The Sydney Morning Herald has issued an apology for their historical coverage of the Myall Creek massacre.

In 1838, at least 28 unarmed Indigenous Australians were killed by 12 colonists at the Myall Creek near the Gwydir River, in northern New South Wales.

“In several editorials published before, during, and after two Sydney trials in late 1838 relating to the massacre, the Herald essentially campaigned for the 11 accused mass murderers to escape prosecution,” an editorial in the 9 June edition said.

“It also opposed the death sentence eventually handed to seven of the men.

“In one editorial published ahead of the trials and amid a public debate about legal protections for Aboriginal people, the Herald proclaimed: ‘The whole gang of black animals are not worth the money the colonists will have to pay for printing the silly documents on which we have already wasted too much time’.”

The newspaper also encouraged readers “to shoot and kill Aboriginal people if they ever felt threatened”.

The newspaper owned up to the errors made and issued an apology for their coverage, writing: “The Herald has a long and proud history of telling the Australian story. But on Myall Creek, the truth is we failed dismally.”

This isn’t the first time The Sydney Morning Herald has issued an apology for its coverage.

In 2016, The Herald apologised for publishing the names, addresses, and professions of people arrested during the 1978 Mardi Gras.

The former editor and chief Darren Goodsir issued a statement at the time, saying: “We can not take back the harm that our publications caused, nor erase the pain and suffering that flowed from the Herald’s transgressions at that time. We cannot wipe away the discrimination and harassment that came after those publications, albeit in keeping with an ignorant reporting convention.

But we can, through me as editor-in-chief of the Herald and as a senior executive of Fairfax Media, finally take ownership of those errors and sincerely apologise to you here tonight, and to your friends and families.”

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