The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), one of Australia’s oldest publications, has made a groundbreaking apology for its coverage of the brutal massacre of Aboriginal people in 1838, known as the Myall Creek massacre. In an editorial, the newspaper expressed remorse for perpetuating racist views, spreading misinformation, and campaigning for the killers to evade justice. This marks the first time colonists were prosecuted for mass killings of Aboriginal people. The SMH acknowledged that its past editorial positions had fueled violence and supported the notion that colonists were exempt from consequences for their actions.
The apology, issued on the 185th anniversary of the Myall Creek massacre, underscores the SMH’s commitment to truth and reconciliation. The newspaper recognized its failure to accurately tell the Australian story and admitted that its coverage at the time was particularly brutal, even by colonial journalism standards. By apologizing, the SMH aims to address the historical wounds and contribute to the healing process.
The Myall Creek Station massacre unfolded during Australia’s Frontier Wars, a period characterized by genocidal violence during the first 140 years of British settlement. The group of European stockmen responsible for the massacre executed Wirrayaraay women, children, and elders while the men were away working. Historians emphasize that the Myall Creek incident is only known because the perpetrators were tried and convicted, highlighting the countless untold atrocities from the Frontier Wars that still haunt Australia’s history.
This apology from the SMH aligns with a broader global reckoning, as nations and institutions confront their histories of racial violence. It serves as a reminder of the importance of acknowledging past wrongs and working towards a more inclusive and equitable future. The SMH’s efforts to confront its own role in perpetuating racism contribute to the ongoing journey of truth, reconciliation, and healing.