Launceston Examiner prints front page apology for fake trans incident letter
The Examiner newspaper printed a front page apology for publishing an anti-trans letter to the editor which was later found to be fabricated.
The Examiner, the second largest newspaper in Tasmania, published the letter under the headline “Girls getting change, then in walks a man”.
The letter detailed an alleged incident in which a man began undressing in front of children in the female changing rooms at the Launceston Aquatic Centre.
The writer said that the man was forcibly removed by another patron.
They further claimed that staff dismissed the incident because the person was identified as female.
An explanation published the next day by editor Mark Westfield confirmed that the incident had not been verified before publication.
“I have to trust my readers. 99.99 percent of letters I’m pretty confident are correct,” he wrote
“I spoke to the author. I think she made it up.
“She was not very convincing. I asked her what happened, to give me some detail, a time, date, but she didn’t want to.”
Despite this, the letter quickly gained traction with trans exclusion groups online.
‘We got it wrong, and we’re sorry’
More than two weeks after the letter was published, The Examiner published a front-page apology.
In the apology, the newspaper said the letter was published without verification.
It added that it “fell short of the standards we must meet”.
It also admitted that the explanation also fell short and “offered an apology when it should have offered an apology”.
The paper concluded by apologizing “unreservedly” to the transgender and gender diverse communities.
Equality Tasmania spokeswoman Rose Boccalatte welcomed the apology.
“We thank the Examiner for apologizing in full for the false, transphobic letter it published and for the hurt that letter caused,” she said.
“At a time when many trans and gender diverse people feel overwhelmed by the noisy minority who vilify us and try to roll back our rights, this apology comes as a welcome show of support and respect.
“I can’t speak for every trans and gender diverse Tasmanian, but I for one accept the apology and look forward to working with the examiner to promote a more inclusive Tasmania for all LGBTIQA+ people.”
Mr Westfield ‘divorced’ from The Examiner in the wake of the publication of the letter and the retraction.
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