A screen grab from the SMH's editorial, which labelled us questionable, disgusting and dangerous.

Media’s anti-hunting frenzy

Shooters copped a barrage from the media over the Christmas break, much of it based on lies and misinformation, and some of it seemed straight-out biased.

In a frenzy of anti-gun, anti-hunting reporting over the Christmas break, various outlets failed to provide balance in their stories and did not check claims made by the anti-gun lobby.

The ABC’s 7.30 Report implied new laws in NSW would not only allow R-licensed hunters to begin hunting deer in certain restricted areas from 27 December (it is not likely to begin before March), it reported the laws would shut down professional deer culling operations.

The failure of the ABC to report the truth of the matter prompted NSW Game Council CEO Brian Boyle to make the unusual step of posting corrections on the organisation’s Facebook page (see our separate report today).

Meanwhile, Fairfax media ran a series of articles condemning hunters and hunting in national parks after it saw a copy of a leaked report on the subject by the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH).

The report cited potential problems and dangers associated with hunting in parks, and Fairfax turned this into a headline reading “Fears drunk hunters will roam parks”.

The Fairfax reports, which were damned in comments by hunters, focused on similar sensational aspects of the report but failed to query them.

Reporter Heath Aston structured his report in a way that implied R-licence holders would be a “minority group” among hunters in national parks while armed drunks would swamp them.

He also allowed Justin McKee, of the anti-hunting NSW National Parks Association, to seriously misrepresent the Game Council, a statutory government body. McKee was quoted as saying, “The Game Council’s objective is to shift public perception in favour of gun culture, not cutting the population of feral animals in NSW,” a comment that only underlines the NPA’s agenda.

A Fairfax editorial claimed hunting in national parks would be “many times” more dangerous than hunting that is currently permitted in NSW state forests.

The editorial’s author appeared to have not done the research they should have, saying the DEH was responsible for proposing exclusion zones in national parks. The fact is the Game Council has been operating with these zones since hunting began in state forests in 2006.

This kind of mistake was complemented by use of phrases like “gun culture” and “amateur hunters” that keep cropping up in the releases of anti-hunting Greens MP David Shoebridge.

Comments were not allowed on the editorial, but Aston’s story on ‘drunk hunters’ brought many direct attacks on his journalism, including one calling it “an appalling piece of fear mongering, ill informed and poorly researched tripe without even a token attempt at balance”.




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.