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Back by unpopular demand

Friday, 5th April, 2013

Jack Marx on the cover of the SA Weekend magazine. Jack Marx on the cover of the SA Weekend magazine.

By Kurtis J Eichler

News Limited will rerun the controversial 'Bent not Broken' story in The Daily Telegraph despite a heated response to its first publication.

Sydney journalist Mark Dapin's story depicting Broken Hill as a backward mining town overrun by obese people lining up for welfare cheques was universally panned by locals when it was printed in The Advertiser's SA Weekend magazine on March 23.

Those quoted - including writer Jack Marx, Councillor Peter Black, builder Jon Hanrahan and cafe owner Susie Mobbs - told of how the town was predominantly fly-in, fly out (FIFO) and on the slide economically.

State MP John Williams lashed out at Mr Dapin, saying it was "not only negative but relied on the commentary from the village idiot and other quotes that selectively painted a negative view of Broken Hill".

Mr Dapin told the BDT yesterday it was a "good second chance" to amend the errors in the initial story and add "figures and facts".

He called Mr Black the former MP for Darling Downs instead of Murray-Darling and incorrectly spelled Silverton as Silken.

Mr Dapin used Census data and an Adult Health report to back up claims that were unsourced when the article first went to print.

"I went back to the census and in the census it says 23.3 per cent in partner families had no bread winner."

Mr Dapin said no statistics could be found on the prevalence of FIFOs in the city so that section was deleted.

"Everybody mentioned that with the exception of (school teacher) Leah Roper."

He is unsure as to the response the rerun will generate, but went on to say he was still surprised at the backlash he faced following the first printing.

"I didn't really understand what people were angry about."

The Daily Telegraph's Inside Edition editor Joe Hildebrand said the article would run but was unsure as to a date.

He stood by Mr Dapin's story, despite the uproar it evoked.

"Mark Dapin is one of Australia's best colour and comic writers," Mr Hildebrand said.

"His observations on almost anything or anywhere he is exposed to are always worth reading.

"I would read a colour piece by Mark Dapin about the inside of a fish bowl let alone a place as interesting and historically rich as Broken Hill."

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