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Journalist acknowledged for reducing drug problems

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NB. Embargoed until Wednesday 11/3/98

Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia

Journalists acknowledged for reducing drug problems

On Wednesday 11/3/98, The Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge will present a special award to Amanda Bolch (The Advocate, Tas) for outstanding professionalism in coverage of alcohol and other drug issues over the Christmas/New Year period. Journalists, Darren Gray (The Sunday Age), Fiona Hudson (The Herald Sun) and Gavin Fang (The West Australian) will also be acknowledged for their

contribution to reducing drug problems.

The awards, auspiced by the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), were decided after a panel of experts reviewed more than 1,700 articles and drug related news stories published in Australia’s major newspapers across the Christmas/New Year period.

According to David Crosbie, ADCA Chief Executive Officer, “many journalists have no idea just how powerful an influence the media is in informing community attitudes and influencing drug taking behaviour. ”

In reflecting on his role as one of the panel judging the awards, Mr Crosbie said that it was pleasing that examples of clearly inaccurate or irresponsible journalism had been harder to identify this year. However, there are still some examples of disappointing journalism, particularly in relation to alcohol.

“Lines such as - ‘Christmas without your favourite drop just wouldn’t be the same’ and A Christmas without beer would be a bit like Easter without chocolate - and wouldn’t that be a tragedy!’ clearly show that some journalists think it is funny or in the spirit of Christmas to encourage people to drink.

Mr Crosbie also highlighted the inappropriate use of terms such as ‘responsible drinking’. “Telling people to drink responsibly is fairly meaningless. The research shows that most drinkers believe they drink responsibly (otherwise they would drink less). What is needed is for journalists to provide information on how much people can drink and stay within health or driving guidelines. This has to include not only the number of drinks for different sexes, but also whether a drink means a typical glass of wine or a glass of light beer (one contains about 3 times as much alcohol as the other).”

The ADCA Media Awards Panel prepared a 6 page report summarising their findings. The winner of the awards was The Advocate for its ‘Christmas Countdown’ 12 article series related to drink driving, patron care, responsible drinking, random breath testing, alcohol related problems, domestic violence and social and welfare services.

The journalist, Amanda Bolch, had written the articles intelligently and sympathetically, drawing upon the expertise of local services to increase the local content of the stories.

NB. The Awards will be presented by the Health Minister in The Mural Hall, Parliament House, 10.00am Wednesday 11/3/98.

David Crosbie Ph: (06) 281 0686 (BH)

ADCA Chief Executive Officer (06) 258 1516 or 0419 624420 (AH)

First floor, 17 Napier Close, Deakin, ACT 2600 ยท PO Box 269, Woden, ACT 2606 Phone: (06) 281 0686 Fax: (06) 281 0995 Email: adca@ ACN: 008 455 525