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When the mediad gets it wrong, who makes it right?

09 January 2018

WHEN THE MEDIA GETS IT WRONG, WHO MAKES IT RIGHT?

After fifteen years I have finally self-published my first book, ‘One Big Secret. A thousand little lies’. I can’t say that it was a ‘work in progress’ over the years because it was mostly written in the first eighteen months and it really only needed an introduction and an ending to make it complete. But it sat, haunting the recesses of my mind until I could no longer ignore the responsibility of airing what lay within its pages.

This prompting arose because in the course of my duties as the manager of a thoroughbred spelling and breeding operation, I was seriously injured and my mortality reckoned I pay attention. Not that it hadn’t been building towards this for some time.   A badly broken ankle and crushed heel, two broken collarbones, a crushed vertebrae and stitches to both temples, I blew off as typical for someone working ‘up close and personal’ with volatile animals weighing in excess of five hundred kilos. 

But this time was different. I was knocked to the ground and as the horse scuffled over the top of me, it stood on my skull. A couple of fractured ribs and a broken wrist defined the moment. That I didn’t sustain a skull fracture was nothing short of miraculous. However, post-concussion syndrome engulfed me for over twelve months and I am still not fully recovered. Side-lined, I knew it was time to finish my book, because a fatal accident is only ever a ‘blink of an eye’ away.

My story is rooted in the horse industry, as at its centre stands a very beautiful, intelligent and trusting stallion. For horse owners and indeed all pet, ‘companion’ and commercial animal owners, it is a ‘must read’. It examines the right of an individual to provide on-going veterinary care for a sick or diseased animal, be it for pleasure or profit, under strict guidelines as laid down by the veterinary profession. If you lived in Melbourne in mid-May through early-June 2002, you may remember the story. Newspapers, radio stations, television news and current affairs programs were not interested in anything else. In fact, they were whipped into a frenzy, the likes of which hadn’t been since the Azaria Chamberlain case. Only this time it concerned allegations of animal cruelty, a topic always close to the heart of Australians.

The RSPCA, the Veterinary Practitioner’s Registration Board of Victoria and the Victorian Supreme Court were all major players in the story. But it was the media, in all of its forms, that formalised what has become the historical account. The book evokes contemplation of this wider issue, because we entrust them with that responsibility. Even though we’re told not to believe everything we read, we kind of do. What if the media got it all so wrong back then? What if the historical account amounts to nothing more than ‘fake news’? How does history right itself?

It has to be done from a previously unexplored angle. An irrefutable angle. And it needs an absolutely reliable source. Of all the people that have had their say, my voice is the one that remains unheard.  Mine was the silent voice at the heart of it all, the owner of the horse. With me were the professionals, the veterinarians who remained loyal to their patient, to their client, to their profession and to legal process. And backing them up, was the Veterinary Practitioner’s Registration Board of Victoria, the Victorian Supreme Court and Victorian State Legislation.

Although the self-publishing process has been a steep learning curve and required a dedicated effort at a time of convalescence, it afforded me the opportunity to control the narrative and to remain steadfast in my commitment to the truth, something the media was too quick to overlook in its effort to secure a story.  Self-publishing encourages aspiring authors to market and distribute their books in order to make writing financially viable.  With this in mind, in its initial release, the book can be purchased directly from my website: www.francescabrady.com as a paperback or e-book.

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