Subtle undertone changes Rocky’s positive target shooting story

An article using the words violent, gun enthusiast and a trigger warning before the start of the story says more about the authors and the intended audience than our segment of the community.

What could be a positive feature story with SBS about responsible firearm owners and the sport of target shooting now perpetuates the myths that plague us.

The SBS news story put together for the SBS Chinese channel in Australia introduces shotgunner Rocky Shi as an “unapologetic gun enthusiast”, begins with a trigger warning and went on to clumsily suggest there is a stereotype that “gun owners are violent” and entertain the musings ‘experts’ that back this claim.

Rocky is a great example of a target shooter sharing his love for his sport, but the way the story is edited and the other content included, paints another picture.

When writing about firearms, maintaining fairness and balance while putting together a good story can be a difficult task, particularly when seeking sales or ratings. Firearms and the shooting sports are a specialised knowledge area and it can be easy to get it wrong unless you are a sporting shooter or you have personal experience with the topic.

These challenges are intensified when you bring another country into the mix where firearms are subject to some of the strictest control measures in the world. Painting the picture for the audience of SBS Chinese required the journalists involved to cover off on Australia’s current firearm ownership and legislation, history of firearm crime and a final word from anti-firearm group Gun Control Australia. This overview gives the illusion of fairness and balance, but the subtle negative messaging throughout, whether intentional or otherwise, tells a different story.

SSAA National actively works with the media and contacts journalists and news sources to help address inaccuracies and educate media professionals. A Journalist’s Guide to Firearms and the Shooting Sports was produced as an extensive guide to assist journalists and media professionals when reporting on firearms-related stories.

In response to media coverage such as this we look to make contact and build positive relationships with media professionals to help educate and equip journalists to produce educated firearms-related news content in the future.

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