SSAA helping media towards educated and balanced reporting

SSAA National is supporting and informing journalists to create accurate news reports by updating and reissuing its Journalist’s Guide to Firearms and the Shooting Sports publication. The third edition of the guide was sent out to libraries across the country earlier this year and will continue to be sent to journalists and other media professionals for use as an educational tool.

The initiative is part of the SSAA’s role in promoting and explaining our recreation to create a better environment and community understanding of all forms of shooting sports and hunting. It includes the SSAA’s 10 golden rules for journalists which encourages balanced and educated reporting when it comes to facts and figures, understanding the role hunters play in the environment and highlights. The first golden rule – to avoid photographing sporting shooters or hunters from dangerous positions such as in front of the firearm – comes from a real-life experience witnessed by one of our staff. It came about at an Olympic Games event when a photographer asked to take better pictures by moving down-range behind the targets . . . while competitors were shooting!

The guide also has a section featuring common firearm myths, addressing misconceptions such as ‘disarming the public reduces violent crime’ and ‘people don’t need multiple firearms – a limit should be put on the number of firearms someone can legally own’. Written by journalists for journalists, A Journalist’s Guide to Firearms and the Shooting Sports covers all manner of topics relating to firearms, shooting, recreational hunting, wildlife conservation and crime.

The SSAA published the first edition of the guide in 2009 after identifying a knowledge gap in that area and looking to foster positive relationships with the media. Over the years we’ve been able to help journalists who’ve referred to legal firearms as weapons, incorrectly identified a firearm type as a semi-automatic lever action rifle or misunderstand the rigorous licensing and checks involved in legally owning a gun. The guide has also served as a conversation starter with journalists and media professionals to address concerns or inaccuracies in media reports.

Importantly the guide has a focus on firearm safety, distinguishing between criminal activity and law-abiding and licensed firearm owners and users, while also striving to highlight that firearm, shooting and hunting legislation and regulations vary in each Australian state and territory.

If members have a suggestion of where to send a copy of A Journalist’s Guide to Firearms and the Shooting Sports, please email as@ssaa.org.au. The guide is also available online.

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