Help us Steve Mascord, you’re our only hope

Kris Swales Columnist

By Kris Swales, Kris Swales is a Roar Expert

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    Ben Barba has been done for cocaine and is off to France. AAP Image/Paul Miller

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    Steve Mascord is that rarest of rugby league journalists – one who seems to have the game’s best interests at heart.

    Not the vested interests of his media baron employer. Not his own, though I daresay there’s a degree of self-interest in wanting to see the passion he’s invested his life in grow and thrive.

    Pure objectivity is, of course, impossible – they teach you that at journo school, right after they tell you that being objective is part of the job description.

    But when I spend five minutes with a Mascord feature or opinion piece, I’m as confident as one can be that there are no hidden agendas at play.

    Leave that to the cancerous growths who masquerade as rugby league media in some sectors of Sydney, the worst of them so malignant you get the feeling they won’t be satisfied until they’re hanging off the game’s corpse.

    In all my years of reading Mascord’s work, and listening to his comments as sideline eye for ABC Grandstand and Triple M, I could count on a fingerless hand the number of occasions he’s been hysterical.

    That was until rumours began to swirl about improper conduct from the Canterbury Bulldogs in relation to the Ben Barba affair, specifically rumours that the real truth of the matter had been concealed.

    In a golden period for rugby league conspiracy theories, this was the one that sent Mascord over the edge.

    On Triple M’s Monday Night Football call a few weeks back, Mascord let fly at the NRL. He was careful not to cross any lines, but left little doubt that there was more to allegations of domestic violence against Barba than had been reported.

    And on Saturday night, just a few hours after the news broke that the NRL’s independent investigation had found no impropriety by Todd Greenberg – now moved from the Bulldogs’ hot seat into an even hotter one at NRL HQ – Mascord essentially handed in his notice as a rugby league journalist.

    The basic gist of his letter of resignation, backed up by another passionate outburst on the ABC? That it’s a waste of energy chasing the truth when you feel like you’re only being fed lies.

    The Canberra Raiders fining David Shillington for having the temerity to make an honest assessment of the Green Machine’s dismal season – albeit outside of the team’s official media policy – is the icing on Mascord’s bittersweet cake.

    So why am I getting all worked up about a journo hanging up the dictaphone?

    Firstly, rugby league can’t afford to alienate good people – journos, punters, or otherwise – while the sharks continue to circle the rapidly deepening PR disaster waters.

    Particularly a guy who cares enough about the game to write about an obscure international between the Philippines and Thailand, and the fallout from it. (Rugby league, it seems, causes controversy wherever it goes.)

    Perhaps more importantly, who will authority answer to if those who ask the questions aren’t there?

    There’s a fine line between information and propaganda, and precious few are brave and talented enough to cut through it.

    The loss of someone like Steve Mascord isn’t like the loss of a retiree or code-jumper. With traditional journalistic models dying (read more on that in Roar expert Mike Tuckerman’s recent journalists v bloggers thinkpiece) there isn’t a new batch of superstar cub reporters being groomed to take his place.

    Which is why I hope rumours of Mascord’s retirement are greatly exaggerated.

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    The Crowd Says (44)

    • September 22nd 2013 @ 8:10am
      oikee said | September 22nd 2013 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      Damm awful, shambolic. A real kick in the guts and you really now have to ask if we will read any truth, or just reports from people paid to tell us what they want us to hear.
      I will be next, the knives are out for me.
      Honestly, if you stop reading the B.S as Steve has stated in his story this morning, and understand body language and shuffling of deck chairs, and other pointers to what really is going on in this code, you can see a code in crisis.

      The line-up of good people walking away from this code is growing each day.
      Steve got no love, none whatsoever for his passion for the game, his love of international league and wanting to grow the game. There was never any feedback from anyone in this code to compliment or encourage this love.

      I can understand his actions, i feel exactly the same way, but i have decided to ignore the negative comments and just keep giving it to this code, they give me no love, i am giving them no love.
      Kick me down, knock me down, and i will point to people like Steve and Rebecca Wilson, and others who they cant wait to get rid of, because they dont fit into their little deceitful world.

      Shame on this code. Shame.

      p.s, i also just read a story this morning outlining the video refs and how stubborn and backward this code is being run. They refuse to change the video ref rulings. The ref now has total control over your club, my god, god help your club if he does not like you, or you have not paid the piper, he will just rule no try and send it to the video man who wont be allowed to over-rule this decision. My god, what a mess this code has got itself into, keep the refs away from Tom, my god keep them away from Tom.

      This is gangster stuff, this is a shambolic shonkyness of the highest order.
      Someone should write to the Governor General, i really dont and cant believe that nobody can see that the ref can call a try or no try and decide your fate. This has now gone above crazy, we are in the twilight zone.
      ? Do anyone understand what this means, what i am trying to explain, look, it is wrong, and this code is a joke if we dont get rid of this shonky 50/50 ruling, that can have dire concenquences.

      As they said in the report, he can rule two no tries againt Manly, because he hates them, and two definate tries for the Roosters, because he loves Nick.
      I am close to giving up.

      • September 22nd 2013 @ 8:53am
        The eye said | September 22nd 2013 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        Sounds just about right from oikee to me,cover ups have always happened we all know they regularly occur and could give examples but just cover our eyes and ears and look’s shock,horror about players taking performance enhances,but nonchalance to far greater abhorrent crimes.I’m also a big fan of Mascord and can feel his genuineness for the game thru his articles,hope he does a Dame Nellie.Please don’t put Rebecca Wilson near Mascord,though.
        Recent game winning tries where refs have made calls on tries,where they shouldn’t be making calls,truly are a problem needing a re-think during the off season,for sure..if he doesn’t have any idea he should logically stay out of the decision process.

        • September 22nd 2013 @ 9:18am
          eagleJack said | September 22nd 2013 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          Agree with your last point TE. I quite like the new “try/no try” ruling of the on-field refs but if they are simply guessing then there should be an option to go upstairs and give all the power to the video ref. Only being overturn on “sufficient evidence” means that the on-field ref should be 100% certain when he makes the decision. We have seen evidence of this definitely not being the case a number of times this year.

          • September 24th 2013 @ 3:15pm
            mushi said | September 24th 2013 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

            but if he’s 100% certain why is he going upstairs?

    • September 22nd 2013 @ 8:44am
      GaryGnu said | September 22nd 2013 @ 8:44am | ! Report


      Rebecca Wilson is not even fit to change the ribbon on Steve Mascord’s typewriter, such is the gulf in their journalistic credentials.

      From my understanding of Steve Mascord’s article, all is not lost. He will still carry out game day reporting roles, but won’t do the mid week grunt work to fill the column inches (and their digital equivalent) as he currently does for The Age and Rugby League Week.

      Yes Rugby League will be poorer for it, but I hope that we as fans still get to see and hear his contributions, particularly on ABC radio.

      Steve, if you read this, thankyou for your efforts from one of the many in the silent majority that appreciate your work. Enjoy whatever comes next.

      • Columnist

        September 22nd 2013 @ 9:11am
        Kris Swales said | September 22nd 2013 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        Yeah I probably should have clarified that, but with all due respect to Steve’s match reportage skills, I think it’s the least of his contribution to the game. His thoughts on the game’s issues and future are far more valuable.

    • September 22nd 2013 @ 8:44am
      eagleJack said | September 22nd 2013 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      It was quite a blow-up by Steve on ABC radio last night!

      But I think he is looking at the Barba incident the wrong way.

      The independent findings of the NRL obviously have taken into account the impact it would have on Barba and his young family. If Ms Currie does not want to admit to domestic violence and take it any further then that is where the investigation stops. It isn’t anybody else’s business for the prying media to dig deeper and potentially ruin people’s lives.

      I think the NRL have acted appropriately in this matter. There are bigger things at play here than “selling” a story and getting x amount of hits online. Barba, and particularly the mother of his children, want to move on and it is about time people took a stand for common sense and let people live their lives.

      Perhaps Steve in his new career can pick up a camera and chase around celebrities. Constantly annoying and niggling them, before finally they snap and he get’s his photo. You can make quite a living invading people’s privacy. Seems to be right up his alley.

      • September 22nd 2013 @ 9:35am
        Will said | September 22nd 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Im not sure the image that the NRL should be promoting is one that excepts domestic violence or turns a blind eye regardless of if the victim is to scared to seek assistance or wants to ignore it for the sake of their family.

        Next thing we will be excepting players who kick their pregnant wife or sexually assault women in night clubs/out the front of their house or even glass their girlfriends and blame it on their mate.

        The NRL doesn’t have any issue with women, just look at the crowds of women and children attending games on the weekends.

        • September 22nd 2013 @ 9:58am
          eagleJack said | September 22nd 2013 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          This has nothing to with the NRL accepting violence against women. It is about the NRL and the media not being a law unto themselves. If a victim does not want to press charges, or denies the allegations then that is where the investigation stops. It is none of our business beyond that.

          Steve, on ABC radio last night, kept saying that the NRL haven’t sufficiently explained the photograph. But the thing is that is how it should be. Ms Currie does not want this to go further and the public must respect that.

          Some things don’t need to be reported. The private lives of the players should be, in the majority of cases, left private.

          If Steve had his way then the NRL would go against Ms Curries wishes, say that domestic violence has occurred and then what happens? We will have vultures camped outside her house for weeks on end wanting to hear her “story”. A story she doesn’t want to give. Every waking moment for her is then spent ashamed, and embarrassed as her private life is aired in every paper, on every TV channel.

          And for what purpose? So Joe Public can get some kicks watching a family being destroyed before our very eyes. Only for them to move on in a month’s time to the new “story” while Ms Currie spends decades trying to get over the ordeal.

          And what if she can’t cope with being put through the wringer, and very plausibly, ends her life? We are dealing with real people here with real emotions. People react in different ways and we must respect their wishes if they don’t want things to go further.

          Steve is a very good league journalist with great knowledge of the game. But he is fighting the wrong battle here. He really needs to just focus on the game he loves.

          • September 22nd 2013 @ 10:59am
            oikee said | September 22nd 2013 @ 10:59am | ! Report

            I have read somewhere, i just asked my wife as well, but men who commit violence against women dont automatically stop all of a sudden and never do it again. Unless they go out straight away and seek counselling and intervention, this can and does keep happening. The way the bulldogs lied about this whole process is wrong, as Steve has pointed out, and for rugby league to be involved in the programs of “Violence against women” they have to either be committed 100% or,,,,, get out.
            The process and not standing down Greenburg was wrong, as a matter of fact, nearly every thing this code does is either wrong or backwards.
            It is like the code has been taken over by Dr Evil.

          • September 22nd 2013 @ 11:12am
            oikee said | September 22nd 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

            That is the barrier we need to knock down, that is the whole idea of “Violence against Women”. Well at least i thought it was. you said.
            “If Steve had his way then the NRL would go against Ms Curries wishes, say that domestic violence has occurred and then what happens?”
            You do realise that this action is to get the women to speak out. ?? Your saying no they should not speak out. ?

            As far as i am concerned, this is a classic Violence against women case, and the Bulldogs failed misrebly.
            They covered it up.
            All i know is as i said, we need to be committed 100%, or just say no. ‘No’ we cant do this because we cant abide by these rules. At least they will admit the truth as a code and not cover up the next Currie case.
            Oh and finally, shut down the integrity unit, as they wont be able to function either.
            Again our code has been caught naked, with no clothes.

            • September 22nd 2013 @ 2:22pm
              Silver_Sovereign said | September 22nd 2013 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

              who could forget the Greg Bird wine glassing of his woman, the blaming the incident on a mate who wasn’t even home, and the subsequent closing of the case after Bird’s woman said she did it to herself or deserved it. What a load of crap that was. And Bird is celebrated now as a great player.

              • September 22nd 2013 @ 3:06pm
                Nomad said | September 22nd 2013 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

                Barba situation is tricky – sounds like it happened but the girl thought she should keep quiet because her breadwinners income would be cut off. This has happened before many times where women are in a dependent situation. I’m not sure what the answer is..

                The Bird event was sickening and left a lot of people wondering what the NRL would do to keep itself off the front page…

    • Roar Rookie

      September 22nd 2013 @ 9:01am
      frullens said | September 22nd 2013 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      Great, unique journo. He should be poached to run the IRLF such is his knowledge of the state of the international game (probably better than anyone else across the globe) and such is his passion for the game.

      • Columnist

        September 22nd 2013 @ 11:31am
        Kris Swales said | September 22nd 2013 @ 11:31am | ! Report

        Seconded! Perhaps there is a silver lining to this after all.

    • September 22nd 2013 @ 9:20am
      rossco said | September 22nd 2013 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      Steve Mascord is one of the best. Knowledgeable, succinct and interesting. The journo I admire most, and for similar reasons to Mascord, is Ian Heads who walked out on News Ltd over their disgraceful treatment of the public marches supporting Souths reintroduction to the NRL.

      Not only two of the best journos in terms of writing but also for principles.

      However I don’t agree that the Integrity Unit could do any more as the woman involved refuses to make a charge. Just as the police and courts can’t do anything without a case so it is with the NRL.

    • September 22nd 2013 @ 1:06pm
      Pot Stirrer said | September 22nd 2013 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

      The media just wanted greenbergs scalp to hang on thier world and tried to justify it by using violience against women as the reasoning.
      The “victim” has rights and what ever her reasons are are hers and she sounds smart to me. Clearly Barba has gone of the rails and
      what happened to her was when she realised she needed to get him help and im sure the Kids were the foremost thing in her mind.
      For the press to want a scalp regardless of her welfare and that of her kids is a disgrace imo. Im so sick of these journos who believe they are the meek and the NRL are Evil, when all they are really doing in 90% of cases is reporting on rumour.

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