Mailbag: PE Racing Coverage

For some time the PE Herald has been flying an enquiry to readers regarding the amount of space allocated to Horse Racing in their paper, which is never more than one page and often less.

We are well aware of the sparse coverage given to the sport by our national newspapers and the tone of this enquiry to readers clearly indicates that Horse Racing information in our local paper is going to be curtailed or even cancelled.

From the way they have written this enquiry one gets the feeling that a decision has already been made.

The argument is that the space  can be given over to other sports coverage.This is ominous as it is supported by ideas of replacing the daily paper news information by internet and email.For the reasons given underneath this can be seen as impractical.Furthermore if you have email/internet info already at hand you don’t need the Herald to give it to you.

Additionally they state that “if you don’t have access to the net, let us know, so we can find some other ways of getting them to you”.

Such as ?!

I see this as a further blow to an industry that is already on the ropes and indicative of where Horse Racing stands as a priority sport.

I enclose details an email I sent to the Herald in reponse to their “enquiry”.

To: [email protected]

Subject: Herald Horse Racing Coverage/Attention The Sports Editor

I note with concern the proposal to reduce or even eliminate,as indicated,the coverage of Horse Racing in terms of copy and race listing from your newspaper.

You may not be aware that  the racing information supplied in daily papers is utilised by a broad crosssection of the community,specifically the poorer,working class people.

In South Africa you will notice that these punters placing bets in tote outlets and bookmakers stands invariably have a copy of the daily paper to make selections.

Less fortunate people do not have internet facilities as you have indicated and cannot afford,on a daily basis, to buy the various racing journals to access information on a day’s racing.

In general the various betting outlets,specifically the TAB outlets,do not post up any detailed daily  racing listings,except the barest info on photocopies of Overseas meetings.

The major bookmakers in Britain, ie Ladbrokes, William Hill (etc.) will tell you that their shops in the working class areas provide the bread and butter income for them. From my observation the situation is the same in South Africa where you can see crowded outlets in the CBD and downtown areas. Further observation will show that the punters inside all have their daily papers at hand to make their selections.

In Johannesburg and Pretoria there is a selection of newspapers,particularly the Citizen which gives a first class racing coverage. However locally here there are less newspapers available.

One gets the impression that the die is cast and that a policy decision by your paper is already made and that the racing coverage given to the public by the Herald is going to disappear, irrespective.

You state that you wish to make room for more soccer,cricket and rugby coverage. Eastern Cape has a second division rugby side and a soccer team that may well be disappearing from the area! This argument does not stand up.

The loss of racing information in your newspaper will be felt most by people who cannot afford an alternative and I know that a little research on your side, that I suspect has not been done, will confirm this.

John S.Baker, Port Elizabeth – via email

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