New ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has given her first major interview to the Weekend Australian’s Magazine.
The choice of outlet will raise eyebrows among those who are made queasy by Guthrie’s career links to the Murdoch family, but ABC insiders say the new MD reckons the relationship with News Corp and the ABC is needlessly frosty. She’s keen to improve it — and this weekend’s feature was part of that.
The feature itself was short on controversy, but it did provide a window into Guthrie’s thinking. It doesn’t appear Guthrie is, so far anyway, expecting to knock heads together and drive massive change at the ABC. She talks of being a good listener, and on specific points of ABC controversy (such as perceived left-wing bias and concerns the managing director doesn’t have enough editorial input and oversight) says she thinks most things work pretty well. It also reveals her initial reluctance to take the job: she told recruiters she had no experience in journalism or public broadcasting, had a long career with News Corp and hadn’t lived in Australia for 13 years. Apparently those objections were “the very reasons she was hired”.
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Despite her talk of “unleashing” ABC content on as many platforms as she can — Guthrie appears as much, if not more, of a digital evangelist as Mark Scott was — News Corp has yet to slam Guthrie for competing with the private sector with taxpayer funding. Though we suppose it’s only a matter of time …