ST apologises for placing River Valley High School report and Axe Brand ad on front page, says it’s “unfortunate juxtaposition”

The Straits Times (ST) on Wednesday (21 July) has apologized for the “distress” caused by the “unfortunate juxtaposition” of the Axe Brand Universal Oil ad which was placed below an article concerning the alleged murder of a Secondary One student at River Valley High School.

The nation was recently shocked by the case of a 16-year-old student from River Valley High School who has been charged with murdering a fellow student, in which an axe was seized by the police as evidence.

ST published the article, titled “Sec 1 student allegedly killed by Sec 4 student in school”, on the front page of its print and digital edition on Tuesday, with the Axe Brand ad at the bottom of the page.

The ad reads: “A handy medicine for quick relief of cold and headache. To get you prepared for your next step.”

Source: Swee Leong Gan/Facebook

The ad placement has received online backlash from netizens, with many of them calling it inappropriate.

Following that, Axe Brand took to its Facebook page on Tuesday to clarify that the ad placement was “not intentional” but “a very unfortunate coincidence”.

“The advertisement was arranged and booked in December 2020 with Straits Times. Our company is in deep sympathy and grief with the victim’s family,” it stated.

ST also apologized in a statement on Wednesday, saying that the advertisement has been booked in advance of news developments.

“This juxtaposition was inadvertent and unfortunate, in the light of the tragic incident.

“The Straits Times apologises for the distress caused,” it remarked.

However, netizens commenting on Wake Up Singapore’s Facebook post continued to criticize the news outlet for the “insensitive” ad placement.

“If ST top editors had brains they should have more compassion and contacted the advertiser to postpone publishing their brand or move to another page. This is super insensitive. Its the publisher and not the advertiser who caused any insensitivity,” said one netizen.

Some even called ST’s apology insincere.

“ST wrote more about Axe Brand’s FB post than about how truly sorry they are. That shouldn’t be how an apology should look like,” said one netizen.


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