Journalism

Feb 4, 2014

Should the ABC apologise? It’s far from black and white

The ABC is under a lot of fire for its story on asylum seekers' burnt hands, but was the story false? And should Aunty apologise? We ask current and former staffers, and opinions are mixed.

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

“We believe ABC News got it wrong,” Media Watch host Paul Barry declared on ABC1 last night, “and if so it needs to admit it.”

26 comments

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26 thoughts on “Should the ABC apologise? It’s far from black and white

  1. Elegy

    It is still a story and any news organisation is entitled to print the allegations. If it had happened while Labor was in power it would’ve been a front page story in the Murdoch papers.

  2. Observer

    It’s a News Ltd witch hunt. So why apologise?

  3. Andybob

    Hopefully an equivalent amount of energy is being spent investigating the allegations themselves.

  4. MJPC

    Did News limited papers ever apologies for the WMD lies they supported so the US could get into the Iraq war?

  5. mikeb

    If Morrison or someone from the Govt had lifted the veil of secrecy then the allegations could be rebutted if false. Until that happens it’s our word against theirs and fair game in the media to report those allegations. I don’t personally believe that our navy personnel would deliberately injure these people, and so Morrison should release whatever info they have, including video, to prove that is the case. Until that happens a smear remains on the personnel involved. It’s not up to the ABC or News or anyone else in the media to defend one side or the other – just to report what was alleged.

  6. Will

    “a news outlet’s credibility is enhanced, not diminished, by acknowledging the error, correcting it and apologising for the offence caused”. – a statement that is fundamentally incompatible with opposition from the Liberal Party and News Ltd to the former government’s proposals to enhance media self-regulation and other hyperbolic commentary about Eatock v Bolt.

  7. David Hand

    The torture story cannot be sustained and even the ABC admits this. ABC’s mistake was to give it the prominence they did. Their defence that they were merely reporting allegations that are newsworthy bells the cat on the method the ABC uses to run a lefty editorial line and then say “Who? Us?”

    What we see here is a pretty slick use of opinions of others to lead a story in line with the groupthink within the ABC. As a worked example is the lead story on the ABC News website right now.

    “PM l ied” are the first two words. with “Says Sharman Stone” following. Quoting the liberal member allows Scott et al to argue they are factually correct and merely reporting the news. But who decides that such an accusation should be given such prominence?

    The ABC has a responsibility over this because of the direct, damaging impact their reports have on Australian – Indonesian relations. It’s not enough be factually correct by hiding behind a euphemism of “We are factually reporting what an asylum seeker said.”

    Lot’s of prominent people make statements but the ABC chooses who to publish. The bias is in who and what they choose.

  8. Exactly!

    I cannot recall Peter Reith, former Minister for Defence, apologising for being wrong after it turned out the refugee kids were not thrown overboard back in 2002. And neither was he held to account by Parliament for misleading Parliament on this issue. In fact, he quit before the 2002 election, collected his fat parliamentary superannuation and sleazed off to a defence consultancy.

    Now he is back on ABC Insiders!

    The ABC should apologise for this!

  9. Observer

    @David – when the allegation of our Prime Minister being a liar has come from someone within the same party then I think that is news. Even News Ltd are running that story. But not as prominent as the other associated story: Paul Barry admits: ‘I did vote Liberal in election’
    Go figure!

  10. Wynn

    I don’t see how anyone determines that these allegations can’t be sustained. Because someone later said they were caused by accident? Barry made much of the ABC not having people on none ground and dealing with non-English speakers, but the guy in the video talking about ‘punishment’ spoke English clearly.

    What possible “proof” could the refugees be expected to offer? The Australian government and the Navy are offering none. So does Barry also think the Navy should simply have the benefit of the doubt, and the allegations not be reported at all? Surely not.

    Something happened and people ended up burned. If they ended up burned by accident, then the accident still needs to be explained unless we think it’s just fair enough that people are injured.

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