‘Far from ideal’: Australian newspaper apologizes over Wilson controversy
Sydney, Australia, June 14 (EFE).- The editor of the Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday apologized for the controversy over actor Rebel Wilson after widespread criticism against the Australian newspaper for allegedly pressuring her to reveal her relationship with a woman.
In a note to subscribers on “what we got wrong with the Rebel Wilson story,” Bevan Shields gave a detailed background on what happened.
“The Herald, Private Sydney gossip columnist Andrew Hornery and I have been strongly criticized over the weekend about our coverage of actor Rebel Wilson and her new partner, Ramona Agruma,” Shields wrote.
The “Pitch Perfect” actor posted a selfie with Agruma, calling her “Disney Princess,” on Instagram on Friday.
A day later, the Sydney Morning Herald reported it had known about the relationship and given Wilson two days to comment.
Activists and netizens accused the newspaper of forcing Wilson to out herself since she had not publicly disclosed her sexuality and the new relationship.
But Shields denied pressuring Wilson, saying he had not decided to publish anything.
“I want to be really clear about an important point: if she had not responded, I would not have published,” the editor said.
However, the Australian actor has suggested that she felt pressured.
Shields said Andrew Hornery, who has been writing for over three decades, told him last week that he had been told that Wilson was in a new relationship with Agruma and that he wanted to approach her for comment.
He said he was “acutely aware of the dark stain on the Herald’s history.”
“Mistakes were made in our approach to Wilson and I apologise for them. The inclusion of a two-day deadline was an error as it appeared to be an ultimatum or attempt to pressure Wilson to make an announcement herself or through the Herald.”
The editor said another error was a piece Andrew wrote for Saturday’s paper and online edition, expressing annoyance that Wilson had decided to make the announcement herself on Instagram.
On Saturday, Hornery published a column revealing that he had approached the actor about her relationship and regretted that she had gone public.
“Andrew acknowledges the tone of Saturday’s piece was not appropriate, and I asked for it to be removed from online. I appreciate Andrew being upfront about this,” Shields said.
“The Saturday piece should not have been published and that is ultimately on me as editor. For that, I apologize to Wilson and anyone offended by it.”
Shields said the episode “was far from ideal.”
“There was no malice involved I recognize our mistakes and apologize for them.” EFE