Press principles breached in shooting story

- Paper forced to publish correction

Shooters fed up with mainstream media bias and anti-shooting slurs have been vindicated by an Australian Press Council (APC) ruling, which upheld a complaint made by the SSAA against Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper. The APC agreed that the News Corp publication breached three of its fundamental reporting principles, including accuracy, reasonable fairness and balance.

SSAA Victoria filed a complaint against the story ‘Gun trolls target charity: Members distraught’, that was published online and in print on June 20 last year. The story detailed how staff from the Alannah & Madeline Foundation (AMF) had reportedly experienced online abuse from pro-shooting “trolls”. Following a panel hearing attended by the SSAA and Herald Sun representatives in February this year, the APC upheld the majority of the complaint and forced the publication to prominently publish its findings on page two of its June 12 newspaper and on its website.

In the ruling, the APC made it clear that the story “drew no distinction between reputable organisations in the firearms industry and online trolls”. The APC also found “that the failure to seek a response or comment from any organisation or body in the gun lobby, firearms lobby or the gun industry amounted to a failure to take reasonable steps to ensure the article was presented with reasonable fairness and balance.”

SSAA Victoria CEO Jack Wegman said the decision sends a clear message to publishers that firearm owners won’t sit by and be maligned or excluded from the conversation. “The story was an outright attack on all firearms users and the organisations and industry that support them,” he said. “Sadly, this level of anti-gun owner bias is all too regular, but we have now shown that we don’t have to stand for it and that the Australian Press Council and other media regulators are there to protect us from this level of bias.”

The SSAA will continue to work proactively with the media through our education campaigns and offering timely expert commentary, as we strive to ensure the nation’s one million law-abiding firearm owners are given a fair go.

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