An article from http://www.racenet.com.au by reader Peter Mair
TAB punters, and the wider community, are in desperate need of a professional racing media establishment that is genuinely independent — prepared to raise and properly investigate very real issues of integrity in the management and conduct of racing — issues that are routinely ignored even though they are clearly evident.
In western-style democracies the shortcomings of government and business are meant to be dealt with by the political process, by the courts and by the so-called ‘fourth estate’ – the free press responsible for identifying and publicising the public interest.
The system fails when those checks and balances are not working – and that outcome is normally associated with dictatorial, undemocratic and corrupt regimes.
Somewhat like the Australian racing industry — the system is failed — a free press simply does not exist in respect of the racing industry.
A fair question is whether racing industry journalists and broadcasters are meeting reasonable professional standards of objectivity and independence.
Consider two sentences of the media code-of-practice:]
Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do not allow ………….. commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
As I am reading and listening to media reporting and coverage of the racing industry ‘independence’ is one concept that rarely crosses my mind as being respected and governing content.
On the contrary, what I mostly read and hear has all the hallmarks of bonded media employees tied to commercial interests and left without a sliver of independence if they want to keep their job.
The priority is not frank and fearless reporting in the public and punters’ interest but rather protecting the game: protecting the commercial interests of industry administrators shamelessly grabbing for the punters’ dollar in any way they can; protecting the commercial interests of profit-making tote and bookmaking operators apparently in league with the administrators against the punters and, finally – the imperative of politicians pandering to racing industry interests with funding diverted directly from the ‘racing take’ rather than more correctly making explicit budget provision after ‘putting and taking’ to and from consolidated revenue.
This industry has the hide and gall to mantra the word ‘integrity’.
There was a glimmer of hope last Saturday week — on 2KSKY about 9.15 am when one of the regular ‘tipsters’ for the Melbourne program had the temerity to say clearly that one of the races on the program had no place being on a Saturday racing program: a very rare but welcome breach of the more usual code of dedicated silence when speaking up is the correct course.
One only hoped in vain for a similar flight into the realms of truthful objectivity and independence in the coverage of Race 4 in Sydney on the same day – one of the usual Highway-robbery handicaps, this low grade race, over the barriers-critical 1200m at Rosehill, was distinguished by having 22 acceptors, of which 4 were emergencies, and 15 started: one could say on Wednesday night that the race could not be fairly run but run unfairly, it was and the First 4 dividend in NSW was some $30,000.
Did it not cross the mind of one local journo/commentator to say ‘no – this is not on’?
For another glaring example, the same goes for 1400m races run at Flemington and Caulfield with inflated fields leading to congestion and interference and racing that delivers random outcomes being simply unfair for all involved.