I am extremely concerned about the seemingly biased perspective of editorial decisions made by the recent (Oct 5, 2021) Sentinel Times regarding vaccines and covid responses in our community.

Starting with the bold front-page headline ‘Covid Separation’. The article is actually about the positive actions taken by Bass Coast Health and their work in trying circumstances – but the glaring front page headline immediately presents a community in division, which is not what is reported in the article.

On page 3 we have ¾ of a page dedicated to Russell Broadbent’s ramblings, going against the Federal and State Government, and health expert recommendations for community members to be vaccinated. Why has the Sentinel-Times given such prominence to a local politician who is not pro-community, not pro-health and safety, but pro-individualism regarding vaccines, ultimately making us less safe as an electorate?

Page 5 continues with a bold headline about vaccine push back with two large photos of anti-vax protestors, with page 6 continuing the front-page headline in bold ‘COVID separation’. Page 7’s lead headline, again states “COVID fuelling aged care hesitancy…”. Whilst the article is informative about aged care consumer decisions, the headline is emotive using negative words such as ‘fuelling’ and ‘hesitancy’.

The headline of the milestone of 10,000 vaccinations of the Gippsland Health Unit is sidelined to an extremely small font in a small sidebar on page 7.

Where is the journalistic tenet of ‘fairness and impartiality’? Where is the balance offering the other side of the story? These headlines, regardless of the content of the articles, are biased and misleading. Research shows that 60% of the news reading public focuses on headlines more than article content. So, whilst headlines need to be eye-catching, they also need to be fair – these are not – they are blatantly biased. There is no balance in this edition’s headlines on this topic.

Does the Sentinel-Times have an agenda beyond informing their readers regarding vaccines?

Maybe they could take some lessons from the concept of ‘constructive journalism’ which focuses on reporting solution-focused news, instead of negative and discord-based stories.

Cait McMahon OAM, Inverloch.

Editor: True, a heading means what you want it to mean. For us it was a play on words: A “separation” is the process by which an episode of care is completed for an admitted patient, it also describes the separation of outpatients into possible COVID and regular outpatients. In relation to Russell Broadbent, yours is exactly the point we were making. We would also say that with Bass Coast at 95% single vaccination, who is Mr Broadbent representing besides himself?