the narooma news puts pokies before people

Ah me, ah my. The local papers of NSW are at it again; wilfully printing inaccurate, biased stories about poker machine reforms and the terrible, terrible plight of the clubs. I’ve written before about the way that the papers of NSW print mainly pro-club, pro-pokies, anti-reform articles; the latest is the Narooma News, which ran this story today.

Apparently the clubs of Narooma and Bermagui are organising a protest against the proposed poker machine reforms, and they’re urging members and residents to get on board. Now, that’s their right; much as I disagree with their stance and their tactics, I understand that they’re going to fight to hang on to what they’ve got… however damaging it may be.

But for a newspaper to print an article that reads more like an advertisement than any kind of journalism I’m familiar with, is disgusting. The Narooma News promotes the contact numbers for the protest, spruiks the “Un-Australian” website, and is full of blatantly false and misleading information.

Never has it been clearer than it is now that the local papers across NSW are little more than mouthpieces for the clubs. They print what they’re told like good little children and sit back and call themselves journalists.

I wanted to leave my thoughts in their comments section, but the Narooma News doesn’t allow much space for comments. Instead, I’ve placed my comments here, and I’ll be leaving them a link to this page. I doubt they’ll read it but I don’t really care; so long as they publish drivel like that, they’re not worth the trouble.

MY COMMENT ON THE ARTICLE, “All aboard at Narooma and Bermagui for the pre-commitment protest”, PUBLISHED IN THE NAROOMA NEWS 06/07/2011

This article is a disgrace to journalism. It is biased and wildly inaccurate, and by promoting contact phone numbers and website addresses it crosses the line between reporting and merely advertising the Clubs Industry’s agenda.

The “licence to punt” is pure fiction. There is and never will be a licence to punt; this was created by ClubsAustralia to try and influence the public. They had to resort to tactics like this because the truth does not support their position.

This article makes no mention of the fact that mandatory pre-commitment will only apply to high-intensity poker machines; low-intensity poker machines will NOT require pre-commitment, will NOT require a card, and will NOT ask players to set limits. All of these points are clearly laid out in the proposed reforms.

The costs quoted in this article are grossly exaggerated. The cost of modifying a poker machine to accomodate pre-commitment has been placed at around $1000; by Mr Rose’s reckoning his club must have 780 machines!

The job losses have also been exaggerated, and no mention made of the fact that lower poker machine spending equates to higher retail spending. The retailers of Narooma and Bermagui will see an increase in trade once these reforms are applied, and that will mean MORE jobs, not less.

“Social”gamblers will be unaffected. They can continue to play low-intensity machines without setting limits. Mr Rose’s statements are blatantly false.

These reforms are designed to give problem gamblers the tools they need to minimise the damage they can cause to themselves and others, while they try and break their addiction. More importantly, they are designed to prevent the development of problem gambling behaviours in those who are not currently addicted. This article makes no mention of this.

It’s sad that local papers across NSW are printing biased, uninformed and misleading articles such as this. It shows them to be nothing more than newsletters for the clubs. People deserve better.


3 Responses

  1. mrtiedt says:

    I, uh, added in my two cents. We’ll wait and see if it makes it past moderation 🙂

    What an awful article. I hope the club paid the paper a lot of money for an ad thinly disguised as journalism.

    It nice to see the paper cares so much about the community that it is happy to see the local problem gamblers continue to spend their family’s money on pokies rather than those little luxuries like food, shelter and education.


  2. The editor says:

    You make some valid points but I feel I must defend my newspaper and think you are a bit harsh!
    The article is about these clubs’ planned participation in the protest and told from their perspective. They are a major part of the towns’ economy and deserve to have their say.
    I do agree that the media have a responsibility to give the other side of the story but that is not easy, particularly when we don’t have anyone local advocating for more responsible gambling.
    I have wondered how many problem gamblers we have in our midst and if there are any local statistics.
    Here is an editorial I wrote to accompany a previous article on this subject and I hope it redeems me a little in your eyes.

    PS: I am glad your comment box does not have a word limit 🙂

    Narooma News editorial: April 13

    THE front page today features the news that the Services Club is going ahead with its consolidation and renovation of the bowling club.
    This comes despite the national news about the club and pub industry spending $20 million on a campaign against “mandatory pre-commitment” legislation being explored by the government.
    Clubs around Australia are expecting a big cut in revenues from poker machines if the legislation goes ahead, and Narooma is no different with the local clubs holding grave fears for what the impact may be.
    But on the other hand, many people in Narooma may know of friends or relatives who have piddled away their savings on poker machines, it is just a shame that there no statistics that I am aware of that paints exactly how many problem gamblers we have in our midst.
    Regardless of the impact on clubs, one has to think that if people have to pre-register and set limits before gambling then this will end problem gambling on poker machines.
    The clubs do argue that there are other gambling outlets for people to fritter away their pennies, but the pokies are there every day tempting people who may not be able to afford it.
    The fact that the Narooma Sporting and Services Club has more than $3 million in the bank and is able to start the project speaks volumes about its prudent financial management.
    Australians may be smarter than to be influenced by an advertising blitz and would it not have been better to invest that $20 million into club employees and infrastructure.

  3. cyenne says:

    Kudos to you for fronting up to state your case! so many I’ve spoken to have ignored my concerns or angrily defended their position.

    I appreciate the sentiments in your editorial from April, however, I do feel that today’s article could easily have balanced the claims being made by local club bosses (which, by the way, are fed to them by ClubsNSW and ClubsAustralia… they’ve been touring the state pushing their version of the truth) with some mention of the true nature of the reforms. The “Licence To Punt” is a non-existent figment of Peter Newell’s imagination, and mandatory pre-commitment will only apply to select, high-intensity machines. This information puts the clubs’ protest in a very different light.

    But again, thank you for being willing to answer my initial comment. More dialogue like this would go a long way.

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