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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Editorial June 16th 2023

Welcome to this week’s editorial, For those who are new to The Beagle I offer a little background of why The Beagle came into being. In the leadup to launching in October 2016 I was spending a reasonable amount of time overseas. Like anyone who is away from home I looked for local news, especially news of Council as I knew that those at the helm were making some fairly ill-informed decisions that impacted immediately, or subsequently, on residents and ratepayers. The villagers were angry and the local government of September 2016 had a swathe of wannabes promising to turn it all around. From what little I could glean most of the promises being made were naïve or undeliverable. It was politics and the Vote-for-me slogans were short on detail. Most frustratingly though was the realisation that the local print media of the day wasn’t asking the hard questions. In fact they were either selectively silent, lazy, under resourced or simply acquiescent, regurgitating blindly the rhetoric they were fed. It was clear that the local print media was failing in its duty to delve, prod and reveal the flaws. As we sadly discovered, the last term of Council became the most toxic in the history of the shire with Council’s reputation falling to its all time lowest since the Great Dismissal of 1982. But rather than go unreported the continued failures and manipulations being carried out with what many described as an ego driven audacity was reported by the newly established Beagle that brought a spotlight to Council issues while serving the wider community offering free to read warp and weft articles that celebrated the many accomplishments being made across the region by volunteers. The point of this editorial is to offer that The Beagle served as a watch dog and brought to the attention of the community the failures of Council executives and councillors, revealing the highly questionable methods being set in place to further alienate the community from decision making. Sadly most of the councillors of that term were sub-optimal. As a consequence the shire was taken down a path that was set to place us in a position now being realised by Bega Valley Shire Council who have been given approval this week to proceed in putting in place a 43% increase in their General Fund Rate, as a Special Rate Variation over two years. This week we learnt of ABC making 120 staff cuts. Most significant is the removal of Andrew Probyn, the multi award ABC political editor who has, for years, reported on, and exposed, many of the failings of our Federal politicians and our Federal government. Mr Probyn was informed that the ABC no longer needed a political editor because “they want to reinvest the money into social and digital reporting roles”. The outcome of this decision will only serve to further dumb down Federal reporting into scrollable eye candy that will be devoid of the depth of knowledge and reporting that a twice been Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery Journalist of the Year brings. Sadly Mr Probyn’s redundancy comes in the same week as the University of Canberra Digital News Report 2022 that found Australians are becoming more cautious of news from social media platforms, driven by greater concern about, and experience of, online misinformation. The report identified that SBS and the ABC remain the most trusted news organisations in Australia. But what now if ABC drops the ball? What happens when the media takes its eye off our politicians? What happens if those who know where to look when it comes to shedding light on political or bureaucratic ineptitude, mismanagement, audacity, subterfuge, nest building or sometimes corrupt activity are no longer there? Over the past six and a half years I have done my level best to highlight the failures of the previous term of councillors, under a reign that has led us to where we are now. If only we had a less gullible, less lazy, less indifferent and more dynamic term of councillors than we did, in the main, who dared to ask questions, who dared to challenge, who chose to listen to the concerns of their community and who dared to open the backroom doors that hid the festering legacy we are now starting to learn of. I wonder how much worse it may have been without The Beagle spotlight and the tenacity of the few. For whatever reason there was, and remains, there is a lack of any intelligent questioning of Council machinations by local print media other than The Beagle. The main reason is probably the fact that local Council matters aren’t “sexy” and rarely rate in the clickbait world of social media. Added to this that most of those who might attend a Council meeting are cadets, unable to apply a further depth of understanding to anything they see or hear, other than report on the text of an agenda. Most often the crux of the matter is in what is Not written and in what is Not said. And in the case of the last council term, what isn’t revealed. It’s journalists the calibre of Andrew Probyn that keep “the bastards honest”. With his loss the spotlight will fade and the mice will play. But then maybe his loss isn’t all that relevant to a world that says “I’m not interested in politics”. That is until a 43% rate rise comes along and they bleat “Why wasn’t I told?” as if they expect a bearded man in a funny coat holding a bell and saying “Here Ye, Hear Ye” to come knocking on their door. Fortunately, like you, we have many more coming aboard who wish to be informed, engaged and included. Until next—lei


Comments


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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