tip off

What are they doing to Radio National? God help us!

An extraordinary opening comment by Radio National Religion Report presenter Stephen Crittenden this morning (listen to it here) was the first many ABC listeners will have heard about serious changes to the RN schedule planned for 2009. Former ABC religious broadcaster Paul Collins takes up the tale:

Words tell you everything. When you hear “interdisciplinary” you know it means “dumbing down” and “consumer focused” always refers to the lowest common denominator. This is precisely the rhetoric used yesterday by ABC Radio National management to describe their intentions for RN programming next year.

Several specialist programs are being taken off-air including the Religion Report, the Media Report and Radio Eye. The Reports are flagship programs that deal with issues central to current culture. Apparently they are being replaced by a movie show and something about the future. Specialist broadcasters will spend more time responding to opinionated bloggers rather than making programs. God help us!

Let’s be clear what ABC Radio management is up to: it is a case of the bland leading the bland. Specialisation is out. Nowadays the belief is that any old (or, more likely, young) “interdisciplinary” journalist can deal with any topic. Well, I’ve been interviewed literally hundreds of times on ABC radio and TV. My experience is that while most journalists make a reasonable go of it, they just don’t know the detail and often have to be led to the key questions.

Take religion for example. There are no more than half a dozen specialist religious journalists in Australia. Two work for Fairfax (Linda Morris and Barney Zwartz) and the rest for the ABC which has had a religion department since the beginning of the Corporation. Stephen Crittenden, John Cleary and Rachael Kohn are able to cover a complex spectrum of beliefs, practices and theologies from a wide cross-section of traditions precisely because they are specialists.

Nowadays religion is a mainstream political, cultural and socio-economic issue with enormous impact on world affairs. To cover it adequately you need specialists. That is precisely what Stephen Crittenden has done on the Religion Report. He knows what the issues are and where the bodies are buried. Sure, he’s upset some powerful people, but that’s the nature of a free media.

I’m not paranoid. I don’t see this as an attack on religion. It’s more a lack of appreciation of specialization, derived from the half-witted, post-modern conviction that everyone can do anything. Sure, they can ask a few prosaic, “man-in-the-street” questions. But that’s not the task of Radio National. If you think it is, get a job with the commercials.

We need to be clear where this is leading. It effectively spells the end of religion as a specialization in the ABC. If you only have a couple of minor, essentially life-style programs on air you don’t need people who know their stuff. All you need is an ‘interdisciplinary, consumer-focused’ approach, produced by the type of journalist who doesn’t know the difference between an Anglo-Catholic and an Evangelical!

Paul Collins is a former specialist editor (religion) for the ABC.

An ABC spokeswoman said:

A number of line-up changes are planned for ABC Radio National next year, these are currently being finalised and will be announced shortly. They do include a number of programs being moved, changed or ended.

These changes are in part a response to the move in ABC Radio National’s audience growth, particularly online. This necessitates a shift in resources - in some cases from on air to online. There will be no job losses.

Stephen’s comments were made independently without the knowledge or approval of network management. The matter is under review.

Stephen Crittenden is a respected broadcaster with whom discussions have taken place regarding the schedule changes, and as with any other staff affected, future opportunities with the network are being discussed.”

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  • 1
    Julius
    Posted Thursday, 16 October 2008 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    I’m an atheist and former Liberal politician FWIW and FYI. The Religion Report I often find v. interesting, even stimulating and informative. Less often the Media Report and can’t be bothered with the Sports Factor (sport is for playing). In sum I think Crittenden’s and Paul Collins’s points against the ABC’s dumbing down by not valuing the specialists are well made. How best to convey one’s dissatisfaction to the management? Any thoughts?

  • 2
    Lawrie
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    PS: The ABC has censored the Religion Report web page, so there is no reference to Stephen’s outburst. Pathetic ABC …

  • 3
    Wendy
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I’ll admit that I emit a little groan when I realise it’s Wednesday and the Religion Report will be my commuter companion but more often than not I’ll end up intrigued by the discussion and reluctant to leave the car at journey’s end. I gave up religion in my early teens but this program, like most on Radio National, gives you food for thought and conversation starters for the whole week! I am a recent convert to RN and listen at every opportunity. When and where’s the protest march?

  • 4
    Diane Binstead
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    This program, with Stephen Crittenden, is one of the best programs on RN. I am appalled that this program would be cut. I always appreciate the intelligent discussion of religious issues, and I am by no means a god botherer. All I can say is that the ABC Board and ABC management are intellectual lightweights and want to pander to their ilk. Do they really know their audience? If the timeslot must be changed, so be it, have the fluffy stuff on at 8.30 a m Wednesday weekly, but do not kill off this great program.

  • 5
    Robert
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I heard this doing the dishes this morning and thought crikes, someone speaking out publicly and clearly. How very 1070s. Public discourse has become so timid in this country that this sort of thing - which should be fairly standard - stands out. Congratulations Stephen on your courage!

    And how typical of the Howard/Rudd-ite philosphy of censorship of dissent that the podcast has omitted Stephen’s comment (how dare he not get the permission of management to criticise them!)

    This is a disaster!
    I’m not a huge fan of the Religion Report, but I strongly support it’s continued existence.
    ABC Local is shit and News Radio is a mind-numbing babble - Radio National is the only place in regional NT that I can hear decent ideas, analysis and discussion. There’s a myth that RN is the preserve of the ‘elite’, but I’ve worked with fruit-pickers, labourers and other blue-collar workers who love it, as well as lots of other supposedly atypical demographics. Radio National is, particularly for people like myself in remote areas, a blessing (although I find the lah-di-dah fluff-stuff grating, i.e. Amanda Smith, Geraldine Doogue) and a rare example of my tax payments being used well.

    I’m livid at this attack by the parasite class!

  • 6
    Benny
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Well you just ruined my day hearing this. RN has been an oasis in a radio world filled with innocuous rubbish.Why oh why can’t they just leave some things as they are.

  • 7
    Peter Trott
    Posted Friday, 17 October 2008 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Cutting out the Religion Report would be an unwise, yet unfortunately predictable development at the ABC.

    Admittedly it’s mainly intellectual lite-religion, but at least it provides some pespective on the many expressions of humanity’s spiritual nature in history and time.

    If there was everr a need for our astoundingly Biblically-illiterate generation to be exposed to some solid Christian doctrine, surely now’s the time.

    For example, consider Jesus’ challenging claim in John 14:6 ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me’.

  • 8
    bill
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    RN personilities have been urging us to complete the survey to help ABC mandarins let then know what we think. AS soon as I got to the stuff about whether or not I thought images were important on websites it confirmed for me that they could really care much about RADIO content - the audible stuff. Time to resurrect Friends of the ABC and tell them. It ain’t broke, it doesn’t need fixing. And the religion report? Not my cup of tea but I very glad its there.

  • 9
    Robyn FitzRoy
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    In a grim week which has induced despair in many of us, the idea of dumbing down the only broadcaster with intellectual pretentions is enough to have me consider self-harm. I agree with Paul Collins that the PoMo idea of generalisation rather than specialisation is a perverse affectation which also insults the “general populace” to whom the ABC thinks its targetting with its “broader appeal” re-programming. We must fight against this idea of anti-elitist, anti-intellectual, “we’re all in this together, no tall poppies” syndrome which will render us all morosely incoherent with early dementia.

  • 10
    Janice
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Horrors!! I NEED Radio National as it is! I listen most of the day when i’m home - or in the car, or when i’m walking, or when i wake up during the night. I like the sober, reliable programs on a very wide range of topics: today a fascinating program on Radio Eye about the Milgram studies to learn to what extent people would obey ‘authority’, carried out at Yale in t961/62. I also like programs like the Garrison Keilor Show, as well as the ‘comedy’ programs at 5:30 a.m. if i happen to be awake then.

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

  • 11
    Grant Archibald
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I am an avid fan of Radio National which generally has an excellent presentation. The quality is enhanced by the ability of the presenters to avoid being judgemental which is the weakness of the commercial media
    However there are exceptions.
    The particular religion and media segments you mention are probably the worst examples. I take it you have listened and endured the inclination to control of subjects and promotion of personal bent. They are probably being scapped due to poor quality of presentation rather than the subject discussed.
    In contrast I can cope with Philip Adams as he is quite open about his views. He does not pretend to be balanced.

    It will be interesting to see the results of the survey currently available on line.

  • 12
    Revd E. McAndrew
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Well said, Stephen Crittenden and Paul Collins! We now need to hold a funeral for informed comment - because it just died when RN heads in the direction of popular consumption in its reporting of religion (if it will have any realistic comment at all). It is just another form of anti-intellectualism. Shame on the ABC - or more particularly shame on its leadership and its government masters.

  • 13
    David H
    Posted Thursday, 16 October 2008 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    The ABC spokeswoman’s response is pure managementspeak. Typically they refuse to engage in the subject of the article (the manner and direction of content changes) because they do not wish to have a debate or discussion on those terms. Obviously management believes it is entitled not only to make such decisions but also to determine the nature of any debate. What we seem to be witnessing (across the ABC) is a general move from dedicated specialist programs which cater to selective audiences, such as those who might appreciate more subtle or nuanced reporting for example, to a general mass media product that lacks any substantial definition.

    Whilst in some ways this is understandable as the ABC attempts to integrate its traditional media content into the new digital domain, the broader implication is that this trend will lead to a dumbing down of content, something that further undermines any so-called 4th estate legitimacy that the current media players like to claim.

    Not that such debate is likely to be seriously investigated by the ABC! All of the rhetoric surrounding this subject is carefully filtered for any unbalanced or emotional content, in much the same way as the ABC now filters its news. Bland homogenised words for bland homogenised consumers.

  • 14
    Paul Arnott
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more with Paul Collin’s assessment of the planned scrapping of the Religion and Media reports. It’s not an anti religion or anti media decision but and anti intelligence and anti critique decision. Having worked in the general and church media for a number of years I shudder to think what the ABC coverage of religion and media will become without the expertise of the current informed commentators in these areas. If the ABC is trying to attract more listeners this is definitely not the way to go about it. Re some of the “anti religion” comments below, how totally predictable that this decision would bring the religion bashers out of the woodwork. Tough luck fellas. Religion and spirituality are more central to the life of our community and our world than ever before and as our world continues to disintegrate will become even more so. The God who made everything that exists is still very much alive and at work in our world, even if you can’t see it.

  • 15
    Mike
    Posted Thursday, 16 October 2008 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    To the ABC Board and Management:

    Thou shalt not kill - the Religion Report

  • 16
    Mark Siford
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    A short sighted decision. Is not specialisation and depth of content the key to the new media world? Specialisation = knowledge = credibility. Witness the incredible development of blogging or the sudden mushrooming of online journalism sites devoted to their own special areas. I have long since replaced my mainstream media sites such as AFR, SMH, Age for crikey, business spectator, naked capitalism and calculated risk. The coverage is deeper, richer, more immediate and comes with analysis that a generalist is simply be incapable of producing. I do not often listen to Radio National’s religious coverage but it is exactly the sort of content that needs to be provided not only in a ‘new’ media world but also by our public broadcaster.

  • 17
    Patrick Kirkwood
    Posted Thursday, 16 October 2008 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read all the comments already posted, so I might duplicate some and run counter to others. The “dumbing down” of the ABC, especially through the spurning of structural subject-specialists, has been slowly going on since the mid 1980s. It has crept through TV and “local” radio and now RN is about to be globally warmed. The absence of structure means that there is no process to recruit and train people who really know what they are talking or writing about. Instead we have the generalists who generally know very little. There used to be a model which likened the ABC to a university - with departments of arts, science, music, etc. Now the model might be the Daily Mirror, god rest it and god forbid it. If you don’t have structure who is to be apprenticed to people like Robyn Williams (god bless him) and John Cleary (ditto)? I can’t believe that the current MD would be so dumb as to lead the dumb and the dumbed.
    Patrick Kirkwood (Former Head of Religious Programs Radio & TV)

  • 18
    Judith
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I have always been grateful RN had been spared…I describe RN as an oasis the ABC hasn’t got around to bxggering up yet (they completely wrecked Classic FM several years ago). Crittendon’s announcement this morning struck fear in the heart. RN is the ONLY way to stay sane, connected, and informed. And frankly — if I am made to choose — I want the stimulation over the airwaves NOT online.

    That they should axe religion now is incomprehensible. Never has informed discussion around the world’s religions been more important — if anything RN needed to become even harder hitting and more news oriented around the subject (but that would take resources wouldn’t it).

    Depth, specialisation and analysis are what make RN the station it is. Dumbing it down would be a tragedy.

    It makes you very afraid about what the 09 schedule will look like. Please everyone fill in the RN survey and make it very clear that what happens on the airwaves is critical to us!!!

  • 19
    Jim Spithill
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Please, say it isn’t so. Where will I turn for challenging ‘ideas’ programs if RN is gutted? Surely the whole point of RN is not to appeal to the least common denominator. Paul Collins’ points are well made, but the issue is far broader. Do we not want a ‘thinking’ populace?

  • 20
    Dick
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Doesn’t the language by the ABC spokeswoman just totally give the game away. And Crittenden spoke without the “approval of network management”. Really, it’s unbearable. It’s the same people making these decisions as use this opaque, smug bureaucratese.

  • 21
    Steve B
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    While I like RN a lot, I have to confess the Religion Report is my least favourite program. Of all the things I want to learn about the world while driving to work, religion would rate pretty low. And the issues they take on are so dull: islamic terrorism, the church and nazism, the church and sexism, the church and homosexuality. Bleh. If they put a more generalist daily briefing in that timeslot, then this listener for one will not be complaining.

  • 22
    Michael Wilbur-Ham
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    It is no surprise that the ABC is dumbing down Radio National.

    After all, ABC TV and local radio have been, and still are, being dumbed down.

    One source of the problem is that the community and even the politicians have no real say about what used to by “our ABC”.

    The ABC (and SBS) are now run by people who are not good enough to get into the commercial world, but try to show they are qualified for the higher pay of the commercial world by moving the ABC (and SBS) towards this trash.

    And just as bad, half the comments on this article have missed the point that the fuss is not about whether or not religion deserves a program, but the whole idea of dumbing down the ABC.

    If the ABC (and SBS) become just like the commercial channels, then why have an ABC and SBS? Is making Top Gear Australia really part of the charter of SBS? Why do we need ABC radio if it sounds the same as the commercial channels?

    What is needed is for the charter of ABC and SBS to be modified so that the people can insist that these organizations meet their charter. As this is not the case, there is little we can do.

    It is all very sad.

  • 23
    Hugh McMahon
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    It’s interesting to note that all the dumbing down of the Australian media has taken place since Sydney has become the de facto capital of Australia. Sydney ‘s influence on the cultural landscape of Australia has always been towards dumbing down and lowest common denominator stuff, and the sidelining of contributions from other parts of Australia has accelerated the downhill slide at Fairfax, the ABC, even the commercial TV stations. With Radio National mostly in the hands of the mediocre Sydney ABC hierarchy is it any wonder that it’s being destroyed?

  • 24
    Janet
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I enjoy listening to Radio National , especially Fran Kelly, Rachael Kohn, Michael McKenzie - Phillip Adams less so. I enjoy the intelligent discussion and presentation of topical issues, I actually enjoy learning new information, I am disgruntled about the repetition of material 3 times in one week. If I want entertainment I will listen to PBS, JOY ,MBS or JJJ. I absolutely can’t stand 3LO or Red Symons on Murray Goulburn Radio.

  • 25
    Michael
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I am surprised that ABC Radio National is on a “change ” course yet again. While we all understand that organisations cannot stand still there are some factors relating to the National Broadcaster which they MUST get to grips with. Firstly the ABC listening public is older, argueably better educated but definitly interested in intellectually stimulating spoken word programmes that educate, stimulate and cause old farts like myself to have great days and a reason to carry on with hope in our hearts There are plenty of alternative Radio stations for those who do not share our listening requirements but none for those who do.

    Finally I suppose Adams Late Night Live will be next after the Religion Report then Red Symons will get the chop. If I had not just read that the UK has ground to a financial halt I would be booking the flight back to Hove after all these 25 years in my beloved adopted home !!

    Best regards

    Michael Harris

  • 26
    RN lover
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Consumer focused radio? Won’t that be treading on the toes of Local Radio?

    Or would ABC management call that “additionally complementing existing services so as to ensure our client base have access to a comprehensive range of listening experiences.”

    Interdisciplinary my rancid sphincter!

    Eliminating The Sports Factor will see the death of the nation’s mainstream religion report.

    Serious discussion of sport in the electronic media will be left to . . . ah … err … .ah … I’ll get back to you on that one.

  • 27
    cathy
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. The specialist programs on Radio National are some of the best radio in the world - worth fighting for.

  • 28
    Philippa Brear
    Posted Thursday, 16 October 2008 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    As a person who educates tertiary students in communication, something I see as essential is their having a context in which to apply the skills and knowledge they gain in their studies. You need to know something about the world before you can communicate in and with it.

    Paul Collins and Stephen Crittenden got it right - what is wrong with talking about ISSUES in an informed manner; shouldn’t we value (and defend) people with specialist knowledge, who have the experience and intelligence to DEEPEN AND EXTEND discussion, rather than simply be a “host”. I spend many hours encouraging students to engage with and learn about the world around them (including advising them to listen to the programs in question).

    It’s so depressing to see these wonderful programs slated for the scrapheap - not just because it denies people tremendous sources of expert information, opinion and discussion, but also because it devalues what they represent.

  • 29
    Cathy
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    It’s called dumbing down or removing the nation’s cultural identity. Stephen Crittenden should be given a medal for his statement this morning and the ABC Board the sack. Surely encouragement of the ‘average’ should never be on the national broadcaster’s agenda. But it’s clearly been on its agenda for almost a decade. Radio and television programs revealing how short they are on money, talent and standards. With commercial radio and television sounding like kindergarten of the airwaves the ABC has become the last bastion of professional broadcasting. If there’s one investment we can save its this one. And we should fight long and hard to get this service back as just that - and information, entertainment and educational provider. The airwaves belong to the nation and should reflect its interests.

  • 30
    pamela
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    As an avowed agnostic I am appalled at the threats to RN religion program. Must we all be coralled into the cult of inanity and celebrity.
    What is wrong with offering ONE radio station where intelligent comment and debate on serious issues is available. Must we all be condemned to a diatribe of trivia, tales of bonking and the verbal diarrohea which issues forth from commercial radio.
    Of course politicians would prefer that we ceased any sort of cerebral activity so that they can get on with doing with us as they wish.
    Even bloody Howard did not kill RN. Rudd must heed.

  • 31
    Colby Karrer
    Posted Thursday, 16 October 2008 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Few things in life are more deeply satisfying than watching rentseekers try to justify their jobs to a benefactor that’s just rumbled them. In this case, why our country so desperately needs Steve Crittenden to keep telling us about God and his earthly staff - and the importance of us paying him to do it wether we listen or not.
    The assertion that religion is a specialist field, and that running the stories he did requires specialists who “know an Anglo-Catholic from an Evangelical”(the distinction between Al-Qaeda and the JDL is evidently less pressing), I found especially edifying.
    Leaving aside the empirical fact that the presence (or absence) of an American accent (or wether tithes can go on the Visa) is often adequate to distinguish them for domestic purposes, the mere existence of a distinction doesn’t make it salient.

    If the issue being discussed is a scientific, political, social or economic one, the differences often don’t (in practice) come into it. On standard PCP (Poofters, Condoms and Poofters) or “wedge” issues, a monolithic position is almost assured.
    Take the vexed issue of priests marrying. If a priest meets another priest, and they want to marry, will an appreciable number of bona fide god-botherers support such a thing (apart from the ones wearing rainbow sashes)?

    If the issue being addressed is a purely religious or theological one (such as wether God has a penis or a vagina), the distinctions may become important for the limited purpose of the discussion - but the need to even have the discussion in the first place can be best summed up by a Warden at Oxford being approached by a theologian for a research fellowship…

    I have grave doubts as to wether it’s a subject at all”

    Disclosure:- I once rang the show, wanting to discuss the schism within Pastafarianism (Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster). I got a response amounting to “get knotted, you crank”. So much for vigorous discourse and inquiry.

  • 32
    David Masters
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Stephen Crittenden describes this as “the death of religion at the ABC.” I do hope you’re right.

  • 33
    VickiLG
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Steve B above only needs to have a tongue in his cheek and what he said would be perfect!

    Who are the people who have the opportunity to make this kind of decision and how did they get the positions they have - this is a crime!

  • 34
    Pablo
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    RN is one of the Australian community’s greatest gifts to itself. It is everything the Fairfax papers were in their prime, and much more besides. With Fairfax’s collapse to the print equivalent of the Ten Network, RN has remained the hope for serious and specialised comment. It does something no-one else does and fills a niche no-one else can. If the unexamined life is not worth living, compromise to the values of RN will drive Australian society closer to that point - because it is the forum in which we can take a hard look at ourselves.

    The morning reports (of which the Religion Report is one) are probably the only space in which important issues, plus sport, get a lengthy and analytical run.

    If it’s destroyed, it will be near impossible to resuscitate. It’s my station, and (as a taxpayer) I’m a part-owner. Don’t let them damage it. Maybe shift it to FM in all the capitals if that helps. I am not an employee of RN or the ABC.

  • 35
    Zip
    Posted Thursday, 16 October 2008 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    To Patrick Kirkwood

    I listened to Robin Williams as a teenage boy. I am now 50, still listening. I have heard other science reporters, but intermittently. Have I missed something (someone) or does it take 35 years to find an apprentice? Succession planning does not seem to have been the ABC’s forte.

  • 36
    George
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I do see the demise of the Religion report which I listen to religiously on IPOD although I do not have a faith ,is part of a political agenda and part of the culture wars. I have been very disappointed in the Rudd Government social agenda ,the fear of criticism and the demise of this show dressed up in whatever way is the religious establishment pushing on the Rudd Government to stifle debate and discussions that sometimes reveal the emperor has no clothes. We need a new Board at ABC and probably a vote for Greens rather than labour at the next election to try to preserve diversity and tolerance for different view points in our public discourse.

  • 37
    Roy
    Posted Friday, 17 October 2008 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Can we take some sort of collective action on this? I don’t think any RN listener (or staff) is happy about these developments. At the very least we need to demonstrate that they can’t do this to us again without ramifications, or I’m sure there will be more of such changes in the future
    (Does someone want to set up an external message board so we can throw some ideas around? We’ve needed one for years anyway)

  • 38
    Martin
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    God help the Religion Report, Stephen Crittenden, Media Report, Sports Factor, Radio Eye…….but more importantly God help Radio National……because ABC management are NOT.
    Cerebral Radio, the thinking persons radio. What a true ‘national treasure’ Radio National is, from Fran to Phillip, this is what GOOD radio is all about, to be able to listen to ‘thinking and intelligent’ broadcasters applying their skills for the benefit of thinking Australians.
    We MUST not allow ABC management to do this to OUR ABC!

  • 39
    Trevor Kruger
    Posted Thursday, 16 October 2008 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Given the political impetus of dogmatic, fundamentalist forms of religion in the US, Middle East and here it is a mistake to pretend they are not there. Hence the continuing need for Radio National’s focus on the Varieties of Religion and their activities.
    What is of some concern is the ABC’s spokeswoman and her spin (and veiled threat?) in ignoring the substance of Steve Crittendon’s argument and reducing the topic to his future employment.
    Still it is yet another example that our teachers should be using in educating our children about the burgeoning attempts by organisations to confuse and control.

  • 40
    Zip
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I thought trouble was brewing when I heard Radio National presenters mention a listener survey. Surveys are typically handed out to make people feel warm, listened to, and blind to the fact that at the same time the surveying company is reducing its services. I love RN, all the programs; my only gripe is their constant repetition — the result of previous cuts. If RN management wants to add new programs, by all means, just get rid of some of the repeats — but don’t cut programs we enjoy and don’t dumb down.

  • 41
    Philip
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Get over it guys. religion is nothing more than man-made hocus pocus created to subjugate the will and wallets of those needing a supernatural fix. Crittenden’s opening show comment that ‘religion vies with economicsas the determinant for everything that goes on in the world”. Really? Let’s hope that that stops real damned quick.Bring on the cuts.

  • 42
    Peter
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    This latest development at the ABC makes real sense if you recognise the deep current of anti-intellectualism and disdain for “bolshie” program makers that emanates from the very top of the radio division. This is a very hard story to research and authenticate despite a few gallant journalistic attempts to penetrate the smokescreen. I personally am shocked by the loss of The Media Report. This decision moves in precisely the opposite direction of equivalent international broadcasters and hybrid media entities who are fashioning much more creative relationships between the online and broadcast aspects of their output as the digital revolution rolls on. BBC Radio 4 has just started a new Media program. The Media podcast at the Guardian is a must-listen for anyone keen to track the fast moving and deeply significant media evolution happening day by day. Our national broadcaster should be not only a major and agile player in the tough and often unpredictable media world itself but also a source of quality reporting and analysis on the media in all its forms. And I don’t mean a quick interview on Local Radio to elicit some opinions on talkback. The media-scape is littered with many who have totally stuffed it up. And the trend is clear. Mass broadcasting is in decline especially newspapers and flat-footed old style radio formats. If the symbiosis between the fading mass media and the “many to many” media model now in the ascendancy is to prosper, it requires inventive and sharp minds to manage the precise approach to their co-existence. I shudder when I read words such as ‘’nter-disciplinary” and “consumer-focused” in this context. They are simply weasley codes to disguise muddled and acreative thinking. I am really surprised that Mark Scott has not been able to see through the paper thin offerings from his top radio managers. He is being very poorly served it seems by that echelon. And so are we: culturally, intellectually and journalistically. How myopic. How sad.

  • 43
    Malcolm
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    The 8pm retransmission of the Religion Report was also stripped of Stephen Crittenden’s offending comments.

    As a regular listener to all of the 8.30am “Reports” on RN, I’m dismayed by news of cuts, particularly as I thought the station had undergone a renaissance because of its burgeoning podcast audience (including several 30ish Australian expats of my acquaintance).

    I’m an atheist and appreciate intelligent reporting about religion from all perspectives. Crittenden may have pushed the odd (obscure) barrow on his program, but he’s always allowed all parties to air their views — I’m thinking of the recent programs on “critical terrorism studies” and, some time ago, Steiner schools.

  • 44
    Lawrie
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    As an avowed athiest I’d like to put in a strong protest at the axing of the Religion Report. This is one of the best and most intelligent programs on the network, presented by one of RN’s truly great minds - and most dogged pursuers of intellectual pretenders and charlatans. Philip and others who think that this show is about God or god bothering really must have been stuck in the lift when common sense was being handed out. The role of religion in shaping this society and most others is so much greater than many other more popular pursuits such as politics, economics, shopping, conspicuous consumption, sport …. whether you believe in one god, lots of gods, or no god(s) is really beside the point. Doing away with the Religion Report is not going to diminish the influence of religion in daily life, but it will remove one of the greatest opportunities going to review and critique what religionists get up to here and abroad. ABC management - you are truly the trogolodytes we could all well do without.

  • 45
    rosemary nairn
    Posted Thursday, 16 October 2008 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    The religion report is one of the best radio programs on ABC radio by one of its best specialist journalists Stephen Crittndon. His analyses are second to none and intensely interesting. Nor does his program concentrate on religion in the narrow sense of the word. It touches on society and the world of politics and the seamless interaction which occurs when our belief systems are subjected to focus and analysis. I am not religious myself but learn so much from this program and about other perspectives on controversial matters to do with such diverse subjects as women priests, the huge range of moslem belief systems in our midst and ancient religions and their impact in modern times. Then there are the unpacking of religious institutions which Stephen does so brilliantly.and what certain secret minority groups actually believe like Opus Day and The Family. The mumbo jumbo about more consultation with the listeners has not occurred in this case. Noone has consulted me!

  • 46
    steve martin
    Posted Wednesday, 15 October 2008 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    If all they are doing is chasing ratings, what is the purpose of ABC. They may as well close down and leave the scene to the commercial stations. God help us ! I suppose people like Fran Kelly will be moved.

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