Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend faced criticism for its reporting on the revelation of actress Rebel Wilson’s new romantic relationship. Although the paper’s editor initially defended the outlet’s actions, the offending column has since been removed and its writer has apologized.
Wilson on Friday posted a selfie with partner Ramona Agruma on Instagram. She wrote, “I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess.”
The social media post was met with an outpouring of well-wishes, but it was later revealed by the Sydney Morning Herald that the paper knew about the relationship before Wilson went public. In a “Private Sydney” column posted on Saturday (and since removed), the SMH‘s Andrew Hornery wrote, “It was with an abundance of caution and respect that this media outlet emailed Rebel Wilson’s representatives on Thursday morning, giving her two days to comment on her new relationship with LA leisure wear designer Ramona Agruma, before publishing a single word.”
Hornery went on to criticize Wilson, saying she instead “opted to gazump the story,” adding that “her choice to ignore our discreet, genuine and honest queries was, in our view, underwhelming”.
In response to a subsequent Twitter post by 10 News journalist Kate Doak that said it wasn’t Wilson’s choice to come out, the actress wrote it was “a very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace.”
Thanks for your comments, it was a very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace 💗
— Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) June 12, 2022
Sydney Morning Herald Editor Bevan Shields defended the paper’s actions, writing on Sunday, “Like other mastheads do every day, we simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response. I had made no decision about whether or what to publish, and the Herald‘s decision about what to do would have been informed by any response Wilson supplied.”
Hornery, in a piece published Monday afternoon local time, and titled “I Made Mistakes Over Rebel Wilson, And Will Learn From Them,” wrote, “we mishandled steps in our approach.”
He continued, “It is not the Herald’s business to ‘out’ people and that is not what we set out to do. But I understand why my email has been seen as a threat. The framing of it was a mistake.”
Hornery added, “The tone of my column on Saturday was also off. I got it wrong. I allowed my disappointment to cast a shadow over the piece. That was not fair and I apologize… The Herald and I will approach things differently from now on to make sure we always take into consideration the extra layer of complexities people face when it comes to their sexuality.”