Bob Holland

The Orange by-election has finally been decided and although the last thing I want to do is dwell on it, I believe something important needs to be said.

I believe the way our local media reported this election was disgraceful, unbalanced, irresponsible, lacked integrity and in the end, possibly helped deliver an outcome that time may show not to be in the best interests of the Orange community. The fact remains, although much, and probably most of the reporting focussed on the notion that “the people have spoken” and “people were not happy with this or that” etc., the reality is that roughly half the population voted the other way.

For months, we’ve been bombarded with negative or unhelpful reporting, most coming from people with an axe to grind. The media has had a field day giving complaining, whinging or unhappy voters or groups a mountain of airtime or newspaper space. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that provided there’s balance in the media coverage, and to my eye there wasn’t.

I honestly don’t care who won, such is my interest in politics, but what I do care about is the way the media can cause a community to feel “so lousy” through their reporting, simply by highlighting all things negative and not providing adequate balance with more responsible reporting.

Why that’s very important to me, and should be to all of us, is that when people feel lousy, they stop doing things they might otherwise do, and when that happens it can financially hurt a community, like Orange. To say we could be talking about millions of dollars in lost sales potential, may not be an over-statement. The “things” I’m talking about includes anything that involves people spending money at local businesses, events etc. I think we’d all agree that happy and contented people are more likely to spend money than unhappy people and it’s for this reason the media, including ourselves, has a responsibility to do everything it can to keep people feeling happy and contented. No one will convince me that this can’t be achieved by reporting positive or balanced news along with the stories and headlines that are produced for no other reason than to stir people up. Stories that only give slanted, selective or brief information or that the media knows will get people’s backs up and get them talking, at least for a while, or until the true or full story comes out.

I would love to see more media groups adopt Orange City Life’s mission statement or ideal of trying to “bring out the best in people”, not the worst, as appears to be happening far too often now.

There’ll always be people who agree or disagree with almost anything, but if we want to see and hear better, more helpful news reporting and less beating us up with bad news that may be doing us more hidden damage than we realise, maybe it’s time we all made a stand and demanded better. I know I want better!

What do you think?