People are quite rightly upset that the word “rape” is in quote marks in this headline, but unfortunately this is one of those occasions when journalistic convention clashes with public expectations. If I may expand on that... Image
First let me say this is definitely NOT me saying “journalists right, audience wrong”. I just want to provide the background.

Nor is it a defence of “Murdoch media”. I haven’t seen what other mastheads have done, and that this happens to be the Oz is irrelevant to my point.
At its core, this story is about a complaint of a crime. This claim has not yet been proven in court, so despite us really needing to believe the allegations of victims of sexual assault, it must be treated as an allegation and not a fact. Not yet.
Unfortunately, the journalistic convention of using quote marks to say that something is a quote, in this case the allegation, is these days often interpreted as scare-quotes, with the implication that it’s not really a thing. Usage has changed. The convention is out of step.
I should also mention that once charges are laid, any reporting that pre-supposes quilt or is otherwise anything but the reporting of the process is potentially in contempt of court, and can potentially lead to a mistrial.

(IANAL and may have the terminology a little wrong.)
Writing these headlines is difficult. You want to convey the seriousness of the allegation, especially now that we (or some of us) don’t want to dismiss the victim’s claims, but at the same time you have to not make it look like the news outlet is “being judge and jury”.
Yes, I know some news outlets, especially those of a tabloid style, will ignore all this. Think of how many “FACE OF A KILLER” headlines you’ve seen. One out there is when the fact of the death and who caused it are know, but it’s not yet proven that the killing was murder.
I also know that there’s the perception, probably backed up by solid research but I don’t personally know of it, that womens’ allegations of sexual misconduct including rape are treated differently, especially when powerful men are involved.
We see that in reporting of domestic violence cases, right? The focus on the “great guy” who was “provoked” etc etc. Horrible. Some people with the very best of intentions post reworked headlines. I understand why. The reporting is biased. But sometimes they’re a bit early.
I don’t know the answer to this. I suspect that part of it is for journalism to develop a new convention, and pay more attention to how headlines are written. Certainly the fact that quotes are seen by the audience as scare-quotes and not, you know, quotes needs to be considered.
So to go back to the headline that started this, even though some people will go off about “Murdoch”, and maybe there’s a point, it’s also a standard bit of writing. There’s probably a better version, but this is what they went with on deadline.
I should be clearer. I don’t think this headline is up to contemporary community standards. (I’m only talking about this one headline because it’s one I saw people talking about.) The only thing this thread is about is how those journalistic standards came to be.
Here’s a random thought. Maybe @thelawcouncil could research community views and issue some updated guidelines. (Maybe they already have?) Maybe @withMEAA could. Maybe the courts themselves could do so, since they’d be judging contempt of court issues.
I’ll admit I sometimes fall into thinking “FFS you don’t understand! This is what journalists have to do!” But it’s not up to the public to change their thinking. It’s up to journalists to tell their stories in ways the audience understands without them having to learn new stuff.
By the way, I too get very annoyed by high-profile journalists getting on their high horse because the audience — the mere audience now dare they! — is unhappy with the way they’ve told their story. YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND MY ART. Oh you poor petals.
Seriously, the audience has been able to talk back for more than two decades, first in comments on the stories, now on social media. Failing to adapt to the New World* for more than 20 years speaks to your abilities, not the nature of the audience.

* It started a generation ago.
Anyway, I’ll stop there, otherwise this will turn into an even longer rant about everything I don’t like about any kind of journalism in 2021. And I don’t want to have to put a water drop in my bio.
I’ll only respond to a very few replies on this. This is a very vexed issue and as I said I don’t know how to fix it. I also won’t try to second guess the decision process at The Oz. I do think it’s unfair to assume malice just because you don’t like some of their other work.
Ah yes, I forgot to mention Australia’s “robust defamation laws”. If you report someone as having committed a crime, but then they’re acquitted, you can be done for defo. That can get expensive.

Case study: Geoffrey Rush.…
A few replies mention that this convention is often broken in other cases. True. The problem here is often that the commission of the crime isn’t in doubt. The IS a dead person with bullet holes. The WAS a bank robbery. The allegation is about who did it...
... Unfortunately with rape and most (all?) other sex crimes, the first step is to establish that a crime was committed. In the current matter, alas that’s the step we’re at, despite this woman’s strong and indeed bold statements. She has an uphill battle. I wish her well.
Anyway I’m definitely finishing there. People are now wanting to play subeditor with the benefit of hindsight, which is an interesting parlour game, or wanting to tell me things which are already in the thread. I’m reading them all but I don’t want to do any more writing for now.

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