Jun 25, 2012

Speaking of media independence, how does Aunty fare?

A Crikey analysis of the political leanings of ABC journalists finds more end up in the Coalition camp than the Labor one.

There’s been a heavy focus in the past week on the independence or otherwise of the Australian media  — although the ABC has missed out on its share of scrutiny amid the carnage at Fairfax and News (bar a few swipes from The Australian). So, just how political are the journalists at Aunty? Crikey decided to do a little digging on the subject. The results might surprise you …

It’s long been perceived wisdom in some quarters that the ABC is a hotbed of pro-Labor sentiment and a training school for ALP candidates like Maxine McKew. Last Wednesday, Paul Kelly wrote for The Australian: “Australia can no longer afford a heavily taxpayer-funded ABC locked into a fashionable ‘writers festival’ political culture that caters to a dedicated ‘true believer’ minority.”

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19 thoughts on “Speaking of media independence, how does Aunty fare?

  1. Holden Back

    Josephine Keffania, former State 7.30 Report presenter now Baillieu spinner

  2. GarryB

    Just note the number of clips ABC News show of Abbott compared with Gillard and it may be revealing. Regardless of what’s his latest stunt is. And who didn’t get sick and tired of the nightly shot of Howard strolling somewhere in Canberra?
    The “left wing” drivel is a complete lie. The shift has been far more to the right in the latter years.

  3. barfiller

    And here are some of the ABC staff who went on to be Labor staffers … Mark Tobin, the veteran ABC 702 state political reporter who left the public broadcaster to work as a media adviser to NSW premier Barry O’Farrell.


  4. Mark Duffett

    Didn’t Crikey itself produce a list of journalist (albeit not just ABC)-politician interchanges a few years back? Yes, here it is, crikey dot com dot au/2007/02/27/journalists-in-parliament/, from which apparently at least several others can be added:

    Ian Baker: the former ABC news chief of staff in Victoria was Agriculture Minister in the Kirner Government

    John Bowler : formerly of the ABC and now proprietor of The Golden Mail and ALP Member for Eyre in the WA Parliament.

    Bob Debus: Energy Minister and Attorney General in the Carr Government who was an ABC broadcaster, Executive Producer of the ABC’s Department of Radio Talks and Documentaries in the 1970s.

    Clare Martin: The ALP’s former chief minister in the Northern Territory was the morning presenter on ABC 666 Canberra in the1980s before becoming media adviser to chief minister Rosemary Follett in the first ACT government in 1989. She later moved to Darwin where she returned to the ABC and was at one stage presenter of The 7.30 Report.

    Barbara McCarthy (now Malarndirri McCarthy): Northern Territory Labor MLA for Arnhem and one of the first Indigenous women in an Australian Parliament. Barbara was strongly promoted by Emily’s List and was an ABC news presenter in Sydney and Darwin (and 7:30 presenter in Darwin?) and a contributing reporter to the ABC series Blackout.

    Neville Oliver: the former head of sport at the ABC failed when he ran as Labor’s candidate in the Tasmanian lower house seat of Franklin in 1998 but in 2002 he achieved his goal by replacing Fran Bladel.

    Diana Warnock: long time ABC radio personality and subsequent MLA for Perth in the WA Parliament from 1993 until retiring in 2001.

    The above would have to go close to tipping the balance in the Labor direction.

    Oh and Holden Back, did you mean Josephine Cafagna?

  5. mikeb

    I guess the Labor side has more high profile ABC ex staffers in it’s fold.
    Mind you – I’d be interested in whether arts & journo types are more labor inclined overall – not just at the ABC.

  6. Student T

    ABC TV is not too bad. But the radio is a long advert for the Greens. Have you ever heard ABC TV give balanced coverage on (a) gay marriage, (b) refugees or (c) aboriginal relations?

    I sometimes tune into RN and have a bet with myself to see if they can get through 30 minutes without prosletysing on one of these issues. I have never lost yet!

  7. Roberto Tedesco

    @Student T

    I’m surprised you get to listen to RN in between your shifts at Coles.

    Clearly, you need to listen to the thrilling insights of 2GB and the other commercial red-faced-men-shouting stations if you want real balanced reporting.

  8. klewso

    We saw what happened to Stephen Long, just over 10 days ago.
    But it was nice to see Leigh Sales getting stuck into “Reith-Morrison” tonight digging
    for a Conservative answer, for a change. But for a laugh dig out one
    of her interviews with Labor’s Chris Evans (in the portfolio), a couple of
    years ago – for real paint-stripping demeanour (was that “personal”?).
    Or Gillard – on “Latteline” – when Sales “changed her hair colour for the night”?
    That “grab-bag of Labor embarrassments” she threatened Plibersek with?
    Then there was Emma Alberici’s job on Clare (more “cannon-fodder” Labor member), Friday night – going in with her prejudices blazing away, shooting herself in the foot while she was at it –
    among other things the time zone from which she staged her ambush?

    Then Mark Scott wants to lecture on the intrusion of personal opinion?
    What about when it affects their approach to an interviewee – and their
    differing approaches to members of different parties – according to party,
    either sweet or sour?
    [“Kerry O’Brien……..”? He could dish it up to either side with the same intensity.]

  9. Gocomsys

    As far as the ABC is concerned all I am asking for is for them to provide an hourly NEWS service on RADIO NATIONAL. Where NEWS must contain only relevant FACTS presented by an ABC newsreader and ABC reporters. No opinion, no gossip, no spin – plain facts. Is that too much to ask for? How about implementing a public and national interest test and dumping their flawed so called “balanced” charter. I believe the ABC would do much better without the likes of Mark Scott!
    I can certainly do without Barnstable Joyce for example telling me about the outcome of his chuck raffle or the latest spin machinations of Limited News! Interesting times indeed. I just had to switch off the RN so called news in disgust. What amateurs! We deserve better!

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