News Corp has issued an unusual non-apology for yesterday’s front page of The Australian, which featured an image of Australian cricketer David Warner standing taller than counterpart Ellyse Perry – despite the fact she stands a cool 5cm taller than he does.
The inconsistency was pointed out yesterday, when Twitter users questioned why a composite image featured 2020 Allan Border Medal recipient Warner standing a half-head higher than the latest Belinda Clark medal winner.
Warner’s positioning sparked accusations of some unchecked bias at the paper, with Twitter users claiming it was an exhibit of “fragile masculinity.”
THE AUSTRALIAN FIXED THE PROPER ORDER OF THINGS, MAN TOWERING OVER WOMAN, VERY GOOD https://t.co/IvBGb74AxX
— Jess McGuire (@jessmcguire) February 11, 2020
David Warner: full time cricketer, part time editor at The Australian pic.twitter.com/WxYQapBjfO
— the gish (@glassenhaus) February 11, 2020
“God this newspaper is fucken weird,” said Benjamin Law, a writer and longtime target of the publication.
News Corp site News.com.au today combated the accusations of bias, with journalist Jai Bednall calling it “just more fake news.”
Bednall writes each player’s positioning on the page was not the result of a “conspiracy” against Perry, or women more broadly, but the result of tricky newspaper deadlines.
“The newspaper was given the result of both medal counts in advance so it could get its pages to the printer in time,” Bednall said.
Instead of using an image of each player on-stage, which would have shown Perry as the taller athlete, Bednall says the the artist behind the composite image “would have placed Perry in front of Warner because he could etch cleanly around her shoulders.”
Bednall pointed to earlier front pages of The Australian which featured women positioned higher than their male counterparts, despite the men being taller in real life.
So, according to him, yesterday’s image was a mistake caused by a time-crunch – not innate bias against Perry, or other successful women.
Neither Perry nor Warner have spoken about the issue, as both are probably quite busy polishing and admiring their latest accolades.
As someone tasked with editing multiple images for publication every single day, I can see how the image came to be. I’m also pretty confident that reversing their placements wouldn’t have been the end of the world. More than anything, though, I think it’s best practice to avoid the issue altogether by Photoshopping laser-eyes on people for kicks instead.