The central question that should always be applied to any new initiative that the ABC rolls out is “what’s in it for us”?

When it comes to Mark Scott’s announcement that the ABC is rolling out a 24/7 news channel the answer is … plenty. A real independent presence in an area where Sky News is the only player, can only be good for media consumers. And great news for journalists: a story that speculates that “… recruitment ads for more journalists will appear within weeks …” will make media students salivate.

As to whether ABC resources will be stretched, Scott’s response to Margaret Simons? “There will be more resources.”

It’s easy to scoff at Sky News chief executive Angelo Frangopoulos for his bleat that the ABC is “going against” its (outdated) charter, and in today’s Crikey, Bernard Keane gives it a red hot-go:

I’ve seen some funny interpretations of the ABC charter in my time, but that one pretty much takes the cake. For a moment I thought Stephen Conroy had somehow snuck through a new ABC charter that required the ABC to do only the crap that no one else wanted to do.

But Frangopoulos’ interest in this aside, in all our fawning over Scott’s initiatives, across all platforms, we do have to hold the ABC to its promise to do the stuff that no one else is doing. You know: the expensive, time-consuming, tricky stuff of investigative journalism.

That’s the stuff that commercial news outlets are struggling to fund, the stuff that’s hard to justify to shareholders and advertisers, and the stuff that repeatedly gets in the way of the bottom line.

Because if the ABC doesn’t continue to invest in the crap that no one else wants to do, there’ll be precious few stories that aren’t generated by press releases and wire services to loop, aggregate, opine about or link to. And bugger all in it for us.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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