Grubby and heartless in the local rag

I hate grubby journalism.

Here’s some photos, and the text of an article in our local rag, “The Northern Times”.

The full text of the article can be viewed at (unless they delete it).

Click on the photos for larger versions. The text of my letter to the editor follows the article.

The Northern Times 24 August 2007.
AUGUST 24: The controversy surrounding campers pitching tents in Wyllie Park looks set to continue until the future management of the reserve is finalised.Residents have called for action to be taken against people camping in the park, in defiance of signposted rules governing the use of the green space.They say people camping in tents should be moved on, while campers themselves say they are doing no harm and just want to enjoy a peaceful stay before moving on in their travels.One resident, who asked not to be named, said the rules of the park were clear and should be enforced by council officers.

“We’re not saying everyone who camps down there is a troublemaker, but there are clear rules about who can and can’t stay overnight at the park and we just want the rules to be enforced,” the resident said.

“And it clearly says that camping in tents is not allowed.

”Pine Rivers Shire Council CEO Ray Burton said the land the park was located on belonged to the Queensland Department of Main Roads.

He said council did not have any power to take action in relation to camping on state-controlled land.“The legal tenure of Wyllie Park is declared as state-controlled road, however, council is currently negotiating with Main Roads to gain legal control of the park,” Mr Burton said.

“Council will continue to maintain the facilities within Wyllie Park
which includes the collection of rubbish, cleaning of toilets and showers and
also regular mowing.“This is part of an historical agreement.”

Here’s the letter I sent on 29 August 2007.

Dear Editor

Your front page story, “Our Tent Ghetto” (NT 24 Aug 2007), is an indictment on the standard of journalism of your paper, and the level of heartlessness that exists in our community.

With no by-line, your anonymous reporter claimed that tensions had “again surfaced between residents living near Petrie’s Whllie Park and people erecting tents within the grounds”.

“Residents”? Which residents? You only quoted one nameless resident. Was there anyone else? One anonymous undated quote does not demonstrate that the community has “called for action to be taken”. If the claims are true, surely someone (even your reporter) would have the courage to pin their colours to the mast and speak without the shroud of anonymity?

You claim these residents live “near Petrie’s Wyllie Park”. Have a look on a map. Wyllie park is triangular, bounded on one side by the North Pine River, beyond which is yet another park. On the other side it is bounded by Gympie Road, beyond which is a cricket field and a paper recycling plant. On the third side it is bounded by a railway line, beyond which is a football field. The nearest houses are several hundred metres away in Mundin Street on the other side of the railway line and embankment.

In the middle of winter, during one of the wettest weeks of the year, your photos show large tracts of water on the ground in what is supposed to be a camping ground. Several unfortunate people found it necessary to live in the middle of this flood in tents. A nameless journalist, and an anonymous resident claiming to live nearby (in a warm dry house, no doubt) want “the rules to be enforced”. The council, who claims to be powerless to do anything about it simply turned off the hot water.

That’s the real story.

How unkind.

By the way – feel free to publish my name.

Neil Ennis

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