Jan 22, 2016

Ex-ABC journo sticks by ‘gag’ claim, though illegal recording sheds little light on saga

Did the ABC 'gag' its tech journo from writing about the NBN in order to keep Malcolm Turnbull onside? The journo sticks to his guns, but a recording of his conversations with editors is unclear.

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

A covert recording of a meeting between former ABC technology editor Nick Ross and ABC head of current affairs Bruce Belsham proves the ABC exec wanted Ross to write a piece, or several pieces, examining problems with Labor’s NBN policy. But the recording, excerpts of which were published last night in New Matilda, doesn’t appear to prove Ross’ claims that the ABC gagged him to keep incoming communications minister Malcolm Turnbull happy.

Ross left the ABC last week, accepting a redundancy three years after he abruptly ceased writing on the NBN for the national broadcaster. Ross’ silence followed a Media Watch episode that concluded his writing was veering close to advocacy for Labor’s NBN, and a piece in The Australian that (incorrectly) said Ross had been “disciplined” by the ABC after he wrote an 11,000-word opus that savaged the Coalition’s NBN plan. Last week, Ross explosively said he had been gagged from writing on the issue because the ABC wanted to keep the Coalition onside.

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21 thoughts on “Ex-ABC journo sticks by ‘gag’ claim, though illegal recording sheds little light on saga

  1. Lee Tinson

    While there may not be evidence of actual gagging at that point, it’s clear to me that there would have been, either by Belsham or by the board.

    And there had, in fact, been some gagging because the article was delayed until after the election. Also, of course, the australian published content that they should have known was false and then denied Ross a right of reply (now THAT’s what I call gagging).

    We love our ABC, Miriam, as you do. But they screwed up badly on this one. This is evidence of at least lack of courage at board level and improper behaviour towards employees by management.

  2. David Hand

    This is a classic example of a left wing activist being asked to show some balance in his supposed expertise as a columnist on the NBN and demonstrating complete and irreversible bias.

    I’m not surprised the ABC shut him up. But it’s not about keeping Turnbull happy, as if they would fall into that trap with Tony Abbott as the incoming PM. Nope, in this case, even the ABC could see bias in it’s activist reporting.

  3. Limited News

    Agree with Tinson.

    “activist reporting”? What do you think Four Corners did with stories on underpayment of foreign workers, greyhound baiting and slaughter-house cruelty in Indonesia? Maybe the ABC should close down Four Corners so David Hand doesn’t have to put up with discomforting facts?

  4. The Cleaning Lady

    Requiring Ross to criticise the Labor plan is not the same as requiring articles to reflect all major points of view.

    Just saying.

  5. David Hand

    You make a good point Limited apart from the discomforting fact that there aren’t actually any facts in this article, just a conspiracy theory by an NBN activist that the ABC gagged him to please Turnbull.

  6. AR

    Criticism is not, and need not, be bias.

  7. Jack Robertson


  8. Jack Robertson

    So sorry, but I just couldn’t help it. Oh dear me.

    Professional journalists whine about being secretly recorded and their quotes taken out of context. Ho ho ho ho effing ho.

    Welcome to the new communications paradigm, morons. You lot just don’t get to lay down the media rules any more. Get used to it.

  9. zut alors

    The lack of hard evidence does not prove something never happened.

  10. AR

    Sometimes that damned dog just will not bark.

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