A short post caught my eye this week on Facebook, and it also caught the eye of some other trucking folk with suspicious minds. This wasn’t the usual fodder we see on Facebook, it wasn’t a slick video advertising the latest super gadget you can’t live without, or a rant from someone bagging some other section of society, there were no cat videos involved either.
The short text article said it was from someone working for the A Current Affair TV show wanting to do a story from the truck driver’s point of view about car driver behaviour around trucks. There was simply someone’s name and a telephone number to call, no picture, no logo and no Facebook profile to go with our gallant reporter.
Some of the original comments the post drew were coming up with some subjects the TV show might want to cover. Points were made about caravanners and their lack of knowledge around trucks. Others pointed to information around blindspots, plus stuff about courtesy and consideration. It was all done in a civilised tone, even though the commenters were clearly angry about the situation.
Quite soon after the post appeared some bright spark pointed out the bad spelling and grammar of the original article. They pointed out it was likely to be some sort of hoax, or ACA was setting the truckies up for some sort of beat-up.
The trucking industry has every right to be extremely suspicious of the general media, and most especially of the ACA program and its people. There have been countless stories on the show purporting to show drug-crazed drivers behind the wheel of 60-tonne monsters. Even when genuine trucking people go on the show voluntarily to put their side of the story, they have to watch as they are unfairly misrepresented and the trucking industry gets another kicking from the media.
Not surprisingly, the tenor of most of the rest of the comments around this subject centred around the various stitch-ups that have occurred over the years involving Mike Munro, Tracy Grimshaw and their team. Needless to say, the comments don’t paint a very nice picture of the relationship between trucking and ACA.
Those involved have every right to be angry about the way the trucking industry is portrayed. It’s not just sensationalist rubbish like ACA that misrepresents the trucking industry consistently.
I had to point out to the ABC last year how its story on the suggestion to put B-triples on the Hume Highway, which was a balanced account, should not have been accompanied by pictures of triple road trains running down dirt roads in the outback. The reply I received from the show’s producers didn’t make me any more comfortable, showing a complete misunderstanding of the situation.
So, we are right to be very suspicious of all media and to expect to get burned every time we interact with them. It doesn’t have to be this way, other industries with a lot more negative aspects to them get better coverage than we do.
There is very little real media savvy thinking going on in the trucking industry. As a whole we come across as naive and disparate. On one issue we give out myriad conflicting messages. This gives the general media the opportunity to pick and choose the message and then misrepresent us to the world.
Come on trucking! This is the 21st century, we need to think and act like a modern industry. We need to use our suspicion of those outside the industry to motivate us to work on a common approach to the media and shut down the confusing cloud of negativity we often project to the world.