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More diversity on the menu as ABC News overhauls cadetship program

The ABC has scrapped its normal process for hiring cadets this year — a move aimed at boosting diversity. Matthew Knott and Andrew Crook report.

The ABC is overhauling its prestigious cadet journalism program for 2014 so that only existing employees or those who applied for reporting gigs earlier this year are eligible. The news will come as a blow to hundreds of aspiring gumshoes around the country who see scoring a cadetship as their best shot at becoming the next Leigh Sales or Tony Jones.

ABC cadetships are usually advertised externally and are open to applications from anyone with an undergraduate degree and media experience. Over 1000 people applied last year for only seven positions. Successful candidates have traditionally had to complete the journalistic equivalent of a heptathlon by passing a written application, current affairs quiz, news-writing test, voice and camera test and finally an interview.

That’s all different this year.

Due to special circumstances this year, the ABC is not doing a broad external selection process for its cadet intake for 2014,” Steven Alward, the ABC’s editor of policy, training and staff development, confirmed to Crikey. “That’s because we have just been through one of the biggest and broadest selection processes ever — 1500 applicants for a range of junior and senior positions right around the country as part of the newsgathering review.”

After a $10 million budget boost for ABC News, a raft of positions were advertised earlier this year including national reporters, fact-checkers and staffers to work in new bureaus in Parramatta, Ipswich and Geelong. There was a focus on attracting indigenous candidates and those from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Alward says the ABC identified a “significant number” of strong entry-level candidates from diverse backgrounds, but who missed out on the new positions. They have been invited to apply for cadetships. The cadet positions were also advertised internally at the ABC and were open to casuals and interns.

Crikey understands there has long been concern in Aunty’s upper echelons about the prevalence of white, middle-class ABC recruits.

We don’t want to be white bread,” a news veteran said this morning. “We’re a polyglot democracy.”

The ABC is expected to recruit roughly the same number of cadets — seven — as last year and resume the traditional recruitment process next year. The ABC has traditionally recruited indigenous journalism cadets and technology cadets. ABC cadets are traditionally sent to a capital city for their first year and then to a regional bureau in their second. Age investigative star Nick McKenzie, Q&A host Tony Jones, PM presenter Mark Colvin and 7.30 Victoria host Josie Taylor all began their careers as ABC cadets.

SBS is continuing its external process for hiring cadets this year, with jobs on offer for two junior reporters.

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  • 1
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 19 September 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    …anyone with an undergraduate degree and media experience.”

    Good grief, it doesn’t say much for the level of education judging by the poor grammar to which the taxpaying public are constantly subjected. Not to mention mispronouncing of English - or common nouns - which is rife.

    The best journos I knew were the Old School: under pressure they could pen a well crafted and detailed report containing no inaccuracies or cut an angle on the most tedious press release to create an interesting and relevant story. It’s a gift which isn’t that easy to teach.

  • 2
    Roger Clifton
    Posted Thursday, 19 September 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    By all means give us another Leigh Sales or Tony Jones - or Indora Nidoo for that matter. But no more backwoods British accents, please. They belong to our past, give us voices from our future.

  • 3
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 19 September 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry too much, Limited News is still turning out Sales models.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 19 September 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Lure someone into your web from Labor or The Greens (Chris Evans for a couple of Lateline classics, Gillard, Tanner, Plibersek, Rudd, Wong, Milne etc etc) put on your stern, stony and unsmiling countenance, hector, harry, interject and treat them like they’re trying to hide something (threaten one, like Plibersek, with your grab bag of Labor contradictions) and what do they come away looking like?

    Let Abbott run free, concentrate on making Labor look incompetent by “default comparison”, because they show up.
    Then play the smiling and chortling coquettish school girl when you’re interviewing a member of the Coal-ition (especially the likes of the owner of one of “the smartest legal minds in the country” as Jones described him - who, as Howard’s Environment Minister gave “10 large” to a Russian consortium headed by Murdoch relative, for rain; and who fell for Utegate…..?) and which party comes away looking more suited for “the job”?
    Sure there was that one interview with Abbott - but did that really balance the books?

  • 5
    Chad McDonald
    Posted Friday, 20 September 2013 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    My undying love and respect to Mr zut alors for putting a humble truck driver on the guided path. He has clearly delivered unto me the big issues. Here was me thinking that your noun, common or otherwise was part of the english lingo.Imagine my surprise of learning that an implied “gift” from your ancesters via DNA can infact be “taught” Dear Mr zut alors is there any chance you can teach me to be better looking and have a higher IQ as my parents seem to have been a little lax in their “GIFTING”

  • 6
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 20 September 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    @Chad, just to clarify: it should have read ‘Proper nouns’ and substitute the word ‘talent’ for ‘gift’.

  • 7
    Stewart
    Posted Saturday, 21 September 2013 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    As interesting as this story is, is fails to mention the strategy I employed, starting off by joining the ABC’s Rural Department. In the 1970’s and for many years before and into the future, the start point was to have an accreditation in agriculture as the department felt it could far more easily train recruits in radio and television journalism and program making than in developing a knowledge and empathy with all things “rural”. Having grown up on a farm and seen and experienced how hard it was from a living from the land. There weren’t a thousand other’s competing for positions or a heptathlon selection process. With joining the then Commission my objective, I spent 3 years at what’s now the School of Agriculture in Wagga and 2 in Rural Development in Papua New Guinea before just walking in to the ABC in Canberra to inquire about a position. After an interview in Sydney I was required to write and record a short voice piece on a subject of my choosing. I then spent the next 12 years happily making radio and television over the length and breadth of Australia and New Zealand. Talking about farming proved as I’d expected to be much easier and more pleasant work than actually doing it! People from the Rural Department have gone on to high level positions within the ABC and outside in the media and associated industries.

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