20,000 call for apology over 'Bride and Seek' headline

MORE than 20,000 people have signed a petition calling on Brisbane's Courier-Mail to apologise over a front page headline concerning murdered Leeton school teacher Stephanie Scott.

While Ms Scott, who was due to be married on Saturday, was still missing and her fate unknown, the Courier-Mail headlined their front page with 'Bride and Seek'.

It appeared to be a pun - an appalling one at that - which suggested Ms Scott was perhaps in hiding.

News of her alleged murder broke the same day the paper was printed.

The headline has been widely condemned on social media - and even sparked a change.org petition calling for an apology.

"Courier Mail's headline "Bride and Seek" not only displays a trivialisation of violence against women, but is disrespectful to Stephanie Scott's family and friends, something that is clearly in violation of the newspaper's own code of conduct,'' the petition said.

"Stephanie Scott is the 30th woman to be murdered in Australia this year. That's more than two women per week, and yet the Courier Mail sees fit to make fun of the disappearance of a beloved young woman with this headline?

"I call on the Courier Mail to issue an official apology to all those affected by this clear lack of human compassion and empathy, namely Stephanie Scott's family and friends.

"Please share with the hashtag #ShameCourierMail to tell the Courier Mail that jokes about violence against women will never be tolerated by the Australian people now, or ever."

A day ago, the site was updated with the fact there had been no apology from the newspaper.

The Murdoch newspaper's position has been partially defended, however, by Fairfax columnist Sam de Brito.

"The Courier-Mail and Murdoch papers are not known for their tact or taste but I guarantee the headline would not have gone to press if the editorial team had confirmation - as they did early the next day - Scott had been murdered,'' he wrote today.

"Still, this did not stop the internet and a slew of high-profile journalists continuing to view the front page through this prism, as if the newspaper had intentionally diminished a murdered woman, instead of using a silly pun to generate interest in a missing person's case."

"When this was pointed out to critics, the displeasure remained: it was in bad taste, disrespectful, the newspaper should print an apology (for not having a crystal ball or time machine, I guess.)"

However, there are plenty who maintain the headline was a poor pun - even for a missing person case.

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