I promised on Friday that I would say what I thought of the new draft ABC Editorial Policies, which were issued to staff for comment on Friday.
They are lean and uncluttered – just 13 crisply expressed principles and standards to replace the cumbersome old ed pols, which are correctly described as “a mixture of aspirations, values, principles, standards, guidance and some separate highly specific policies.”
Some might find the material on advertising and commercial arrangements insufficiently pure. Those who are new to social media might struggle with the implications of the directive to provide audiences with opportunities to participate. The changing nature of media and the proliferation of platforms is part of the justification for the policy review. At a time of such change, it is hard to predict how long these editorial policies will last, even though their simplicity gives them the air of enduring standards.
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There will, perhaps, be more grist for discussion in the yet-to-come guidance notes, which are intended to act as an aid to applying and interpreting the standards, based on the ABC’s experience.
Given the clear statement that the standards will be enforced, we can expect pain ahead for transgressors, and controversy over the way in which they are applied.
But for once, the ABC has developed its standards in an atmosphere of relative calm, rather than as a result of a crisis or as a defense against attack. There is little to argue with in the principles, and it is a relief to see them so simply and robustly expressed. I think they will serve the ABC well.