Christian Kerr writes:
If The Australian wasn’t so obsessed with
slagging competitors, it would have had a damn good editorial on the ABC today.
The bones are there:
Mark Scott is an
elegant operator. In little more than a decade he has risen from being a
mature-age cub reporter to editorial chief of John Fairfax newspapers,
including those tarnished jewels in the company’s commercial crown, The Age
and The Sydney Morning Herald. And yesterday, Mr Scott accelerated his
rocket-ride to the firmament of media power with his appointment as managing
director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It is an extraordinary
achievement. While he has no working experience in TV and radio – or of the
ABC’s indulgent, incestuous corporate culture – Mr Scott will now run the
largest electronic media organisation in the country. Yet only the closest
observers of the media have noticed his remorseless rise. Mr Scott supervised
no scoops in the newspapers he ran that have memorably changed public life.
Rather, he focused on administration – managing his mastheads’ decline, as
Managerialism has been the curse of Fairfax and
managerialism is the curse of the ABC.
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“The national broadcaster needs funds,
viewers, support and a digital future,” The Age reports today.
“Insiders say morale is not so much low as entrenched, with the firm belief the
broadcaster is under siege from a government ideologically bent on stripping
its funding and foisting advertising on it…”
What the ABC actually needs is the ability
to do what it’s supposed to do and what The Australian admits it can do
excellently – program making. This isn’t a question of the amount of
resources. It’s a question of allocation of resources.
The men and women who do the actual work at
the ABC – the program makers – are demoralised. They see an increasing amount
of resources swallowed up by an ever burgeoning administration – an
administration that places constraint after constraint on what they can and
cannot do and how they can and cannot do it.
We’re told today that Scott’s office at Fairfax is “crammed with books on management theory”. Yeah. Right. And we
know how good Fred Hilmer was for Fairfax.
Here’s some advice for Scott. Put the books
on eBay and use the proceeds to buy a few rounds for the program makers.
They’ll teach you more than any tome.