The ABC’s news division has received $10 million in extra funding to hire more journalists, establish a fact-checking unit and boost its commitment to reporting in regional areas.
ABC news director Kate Torney made the announcement to ABC employees in Sydney this afternoon, telling staff there is “no better place to be if you’re a journalist than the ABC”.
The funding boost — which will also be used to invest in cameras and live broadcasting technology in regional areas — is a significant coup given the annual ABC News budget is approximately $160 million.
Managing director Mark Scott and other executives have been in Canberra this week lobbying for more funding in the next triennial budget round, to be delivered in the May budget.
In an email sent out today, Torney told staff:
“With this additional funding, we will embark on a second phase of the newsgathering project, investing in our news and current affairs teams across the country by recruiting more journalists in more areas and by putting more cameras and links in regional Australia.
We will also recruit specialist reporters in key areas, establish a fact-checking/research unit, recruit a Freedom of Information Editor, and enhance our capacity to do more original and local reporting.”
Torney also announced new appointments to the News team:
Editor of Planning Desk: Gavin Fang (Asia Pacific News Centre)
Editors of Newsgathering Desk: John Shovelan (ABC News, former Washington Correspondent)/Rob Cross (News)/ Philippa Quinn (News)
Editors of Production Desk: Paul Muggeridge (ABC News 24)/ Sue Stephenson (ABC News 24)/ Glenn Trowbridge (News)
TV News Editor: Tim Ayliffe (News Breakfast)
International Editor: Michael Carey (International)
The new Network Rounds are:
Defence & National Security: Michael Brissenden
Social Affairs: Sally Sara
Rural & Regional: Peter Lewis
Resources & Business: Sue Lannin
Consumer Affairs: Amy Bainbridge
Science & Technology: Jake Sturmer
Michael Tull, national president of the Community and Public Sector Union, which represents ABC workers, welcomed the announcement.
“The ABC has been under greater pressure in recent years as it deals with the increased workload that a converged media environment demands,” he said in a statement. “It successfully launched News24 with no additional funding and other areas of the corporation paid the price.
“This money will go some way to alleviating the pressure that has been placed on staff and the wider organisation as the ABC expands its footprint.”