Australian media firm apologises for Taylor piece


REPORTING DISPUTE:THE AUSTRALIAN-based media company Fairfax has apologised for any offence caused by an article about Irish boxer Katie Taylor’s victory against Britain’s Natasha Jonas on Monday, following a complaint by the Irish Ambassador to Australia that the piece was “inappropriate” and “lapse[d] into lazy stereotyping” about Irish people.

The article, published in Melbourne-based newspaper the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Brisbane Times and on their websites yesterday morning, was headlined in the Age as “Punch Drunk: Ireland intoxicated as Taylor swings towards boxing gold”.

“For centuries, Guinness and whiskey have sent the Irish off their heads. Now all it takes is a petite 26-year-old from Wicklow,” the opening paragraph read.

“Dark-haired, deep-eyed and engaging, Taylor is not what you’d expect in a fighting Irishwoman, nor is she surrounded by people who’d prefer a punch to a potato.”

The article was amended and the headline changed after Fairfax Media received a letter of complaint from Noel White, the Irish Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr White said the article was “a timely reflection of the pride that Irish people have taken for some time in her [Taylor’s] domination of the boxing ring”, but was “disappointing” for its “lapse into lazy stereotyping . . .

“References to intoxication and to named drinks are inappropriate and beneath the standard that one expects of Fairfax Media.”

Fairfax journalist Peter Hanlon who wrote the article told the Sydney-based Irish Echo newspaper he had received a considerable amount of feedback about the article, and was “deeply sorry” for “indulging racial stereotypes”.

“I can only apologise and say that I abhor racism. The references in the story’s introduction, and further down to Katie’s closest supporters, were poorly chosen; I wish I had my time over,” he said.

Fairfax was not the only media outlet to invoke Irish stereotypes. Another article, published in USA Today, also sparked criticism.

“Back home on the emerald-green isle, pints of Guinness flowed freely, perhaps enough to replenish the Irish Sea,” wrote USA Today’s Jon Saraceno.

Contacted by The Irish Times, a spokeswoman for USA Today replied: “We apologise if any offence was caused by the article. The intent was not to ridicule Ireland. Katie Taylor is a fabulous boxer, and we look forward to covering her story. We appreciate you reaching out to us for comment.”