DrugScope, a UK charity, has created a free digital pamphlet entitled The Media Guide to Drugs: Key Facts and Figures for Journalists. Its aim is to provide media sources with an impartial, unprejudiced, factual reference guide to consult when covering stories that involve illegal drugs, their effects and the laws regulating them.
Guardian blogger Roy Greenslade wrote a blurb for the pamphlet’s cover, which includes the following passage: “Journalists are too ready to accept myths and, by passing them on, contribute to yet further myth-making by their readers. By reacting emotionally rather than rationally to the topic, and by denying reality, newspapers do a disservice to society.”
It occurs to us that the online gambling industry would be well served by the creation of their own media guide, one that relies on facts rather than long-cherished myths largely based on religious fundamentalism. The need for this type of guide became all too apparent this week as word of Sen. Reid’s proposed online poker legislation hit the mainstream media.
When an unfamiliar subject comes over the news wire, media sources immediately start looking for ‘experts’ to help them explain the news to their audiences. But modern journalists/teleprompter-readers operating under the 24-hour news cycle’s ever-ticking timetable often choose to go with whatever ‘expert’ source they used last time, or the one their competitor used, rather than taking the time to track down and consult with an actual expert. Which leads us to professor John W. Kindt…
We’ve mentioned Kindt before on this site, as he’s the go-to guy for anti-gambling hysteria, a mantle the Focus On The Family hatchet man is only too happy to wear. Kindt — the original source of the ‘online gambling = crack cocaine” meme – resurfaced this week to condemn Sen. Reid’s poker bill.
Kindt claims that Reid’s bill would create “a huge social problem where none existed before” and “further destabilize our financial system” because banks would lose liquidity as gamblers withdrew money to send to online gambling sites. In Kindt’s eyes, this money simply evaporates, with no economic benefit to anyone except the evil gambling operators, which conveniently ignores the fact that gambling operators need to hire large numbers of staff to process these transactions. By Kindt’s definition, paying your rent would also contribute to this economic destabilization, as the money benefits no one but those evil landlords.
Kindt is especially worried by the concept of mobile betting, saying it would be “a recipe for economic disaster” in which “personal bankruptcies and people addicted to gambling would just absolutely soar.” As usual, Kindt does not provide – nor is asked by his media enablers to provide – any factual justification for these claims.
The classic media dictum is that “dog bites man” is not a story, whereas “man bites dog” is front page news. So if some morbidly obese Kentuckian gets so wrapped up in her slot machine that she chooses to relieve herself in her pants rather than walk the 20 feet to the ladies’ room, the story will always find a home on media websites. But a hyperlink entitled ‘Grandmother plays slots for an hour, then joins friends for dinner and a Céline Dion performance’ isn’t going to convince anyone to click through. Now, that gambling granny by far represents the overwhelming majority of gamblers’ experiences, but, as the cliché says, if it bleeds (or shits itself), it leads.
CalvinAyre.com has previously spotlighted studies that fly in the face of accepted media logic regarding gambling, including the John Hopkins study that showed gambling was the least addictive ‘vice’ (backed up by real world data that showed underperforming gambling stocks dragging down the value of other so-called ‘vice’ funds). Or the Canadian study that showed gambling was not the dreaded scourge of the lower classes, but rather that gambling behavior actually increased both in participation levels and expenditures the further up an individual was on the socio-economic ladder.
Until there’s a helpful one-stop guide to enable media sources to honestly answer their gambling-related questions, we need to make sure there’s some push-back against the spurious disinformation campaign being waged by the likes of Kindt and his kind. You can count on this site to do its part.