A Change.org petition calling for the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph to apologise for racially insensitive headlines has gone viral amid the ongoing devastation of the coronavirus.
A front page story in the Herald Sun on January 29 labelling coronavirus as “China virus pandamonium” and a Daily Telegraph headline calling for “China kids [to] stay home” have been accused of being racially discriminatory and “downright offensive.”
In just over 24 hours, the petition has received an influx of support with over 42,000 signatures.
Wendy Wong, who started the petition, claims the headlines were misleading to the public and caused “potential high risk of discrimination against the Aussie kids with Chinese background at school.”
“This label is downright offensive and unacceptable race discrimination. And both made the inestimable negative impact on Chinese community,” the petition description reads.
The petition comes after NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard asked parents to keep their kids from going to school if they had been to China recently, despite evidence of “no apparent risks.”
“The accepted advice, understood advice, from both the federal health authorities and the state health authorities is that there are no apparent risks to those children if they were to return to our school or, indeed, to other children in the school,” he said.
“But this is one of those really difficult times when elected officials have to weigh up all the evidence and this has not been easy.”
“We’re going to ask those parents, I stress “ask those parents”, to do what everybody else has been doing so well in this difficult time, and that is to support the community by holding back your children from going to each one of those facilities,” he said according to the Daily Telegraph.
“The Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph should take serious responsibility of media ethics to report unbiasedly and objectively,” Wong said in the petition description.
As it currently stands, there are only seven confirmed coronavirus patients across Australia, according to the World Health Organisation. A total of 7,817 cases have been confirmed worldwide in the 23 days since the virus was discovered, with a death toll of 170.
There have been no confirmed deaths from the disease outside of China so far.
Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph are yet to issue statements or apologies at the time of publishing.