SSAA vs Fairfax: Who’s opinion is it anyway?


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Fairfax Media has again been slammed by shooters, this time after it refused to publish an opinion piece by the SSAA NSW unless it could make significant changes, including changing the word ‘firearms’ to ‘weapons’ and introducing new topics.

This comes after the NSW Game Council demanded a retraction from Fairfax over a story the Sun-Herald ran claiming insurance costs would rise for bushwalkers as a result of hunters operating legally in national parks, and a string of other articles considered by the shooting and hunting communities to be biased.

The NSW branch of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia submitted an opinion piece last week that was intended to answer other articles published by the Sydney Morning Herald and call for better laws rather than tougher ones.

However, Fairfax editors insisted on adding almost 200 words that included “new quotes, new references and new topics,” according to SSAA NSW media manager Tim Horan.

“The article was factual, topical, timely and was within their word limits,” he said. “And it was supposed to be an opinion piece.”

He described Fairfax’s demands as “ridiculous”.

He said Fairfax added details about Obama, the NRA, Sandy Hook, Gillard’s vow to end gun violence, and hunting in NSW national parks.

“Our original article was about the need to focus on criminals with illegal guns, not events overseas,” Mr Horan said.

“It’s also worth mentioning that our op-ed was a response to some of the claims that have appeared in the Herald over the past week (such as the Alpers report) which, by the way, we were given no opportunity to respond to, nor were we asked for comment, so writing an op-ed was the only avenue left for us to pursue.”

Read the original, unedited opinion piece on the SSAA NSW website.


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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.

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