Sep 22, 2017

Clickbait is as easy as ABC

The ABC is revealing its values to be eerily similar to any commercial media fighting the eternal battle for ratings.

Over the past few months, the ABC has published Game of Thrones recaps, a guide to adult acne, run on-air promo ads for news stories and given grants to a very clickable range of projects under its new content fund. The public broadcaster is looking increasingly like its commercial competitors, and journalists feel like there's a top-down push for higher-rating news stories, both online and in TV news programming.

Over a recent weekend, the ABC was running on-air promos for a story on the Sunday evening 7pm bulletin about the dangers of opioid use in rural Australia. The story was solid -- an excellent example of some of the reporting the ABC does best. But the promotions -- not the first of their kind, but a recent addition to the line-up -- show that news and current affairs bosses at the public broadcaster are facing up to falling ratings. It's a well-honed tactic from the Seven and Nine networks. The promo cycle for Sunday and Monday night news bulletins usually starts an hour or so after the Friday night news, and runs relentlessly throughout the weekend. The ABC has also adopted a mid-bulletin promo for 7.30, crossing to Leigh Sales with what's coming up "later this hour".

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15 thoughts on “Clickbait is as easy as ABC

  1. graybul

    News and current affair audiences are falling away because . . . Murdoch Media talking heads have infiltrated ABC ‘opinion’ programmes. ABC has a rampant cancer within.

    1. leon knight

      Agreed entirely Graybul, I think the ABC’s lost viewers are not turning to the commercial networks (puke..!!), just turning off outright.
      False balance since the Turnbull/Guthrie junta has seen an endless stream of IPA, BCA, and LNP ratbags given airtime they don’t deserve, and the bullshit is just not being called out.

    2. zut alors

      Agree 100%.

      Lightweight content on the ABC news website has noticeably increased. Surely devotees of Game of Thrones are actually watching the series – why they require plot recaps is a mystery.

  2. mary wood

    I think one reason 7.30 is losing audience share is the presenter. I usually turn off now and do something else more enjoyable than watching Leigh Sales. Her interviews with government members are an embarrassment to watch. So much better when Ellen Fanning or Sabra Lane are the presenters – some intelligent questions. My fear is that the management will do something to change Insiders and Four Corners – please please leave those two programs alone.

    1. tinman_au

      Couldn’t agree more

  3. Dog's Breakfast

    For mine, all ABC news authority came from it NOT copying commercial formats and filler news. Having gone down that road, it’s not a great surprise that they are losing eyeballs. I find the distinction between them and commercial news is sometimes only measured in lack of ads. I can’t stand the stand up read followed by the behind the desk read, and then the cross to some part of town where something happened 7 hours beforehand ‘for a live cross’. So commercial, and basically irksome.

    I don’t blame the presenters though, I assume it is part of the push by management, a search for relevancy, which is common in the upper echelons of all large organisations.

    But Leigh Sales, I like her generally, but don’t watch that often any more. I’ve got my news by then, and have basically had enough of the mindlessness. This is a more structural/societal change that won’t top soon, short of a war.

    But how the commercial channels current affairs programs rate anything, anything at all, is just beyond me.

    I accept that I am the outlier though. I refuse to watch something that insults my intelligence.

  4. Bob the builder

    I’ve never understood why people WATCH the news when you can hear more detail in a 5-minute radio bulletin. Still, RN also seems to be suffering the same cancer and yes, I am listening less. I don’t need pre-caps, re-caps, summaries and endless repeats, especially when ABC radio seems to be offering ‘podcasts’ that aren’t ever aired.
    And I don’t need hacks like Karvelarse and Dum Dimwitzer trying their best to be serious news.

  5. Justin

    Is this why ABC news breakfast no longer airs real content? These days it’s just like all the other breakfast shows: a block of advertisements for other programs on their network dressed up as “news”.

  6. AR

    Hands up those surprised that 7.30 rarely troubles the scorer these days.
    An ABC spokesbot – “Our priority is to produce content that is valuable, relevant and accessible to our audiences,… high quality, trustworthy and compelling journalism and topical content for Australians wherever, whenever and however they choose to experience it. ”
    That is perfect example of nuspeek, devoid of meaning or content, designed to fill a space without engaging neurons.
    I am not in the least surprised at the fall in ABC audiences – when will it dawn on management that this aligns, with a time lag for disappointment/disbelief to impact, with the race to the bottom sludge replicating commercial meeja?

  7. tinman_au

    Not a huge fame of Leigh Sales, I’d prefer Stan Grant….or maybe even Will Anderson…

  8. tinman_au

    Not a huge fan of Leigh Sales, I’d prefer Stan Grant….or maybe even Will Anderson…

  9. Northy

    I’ve always thought ABC Online is way too click-baitey. It seems they wait to see what youth-focused stories are getting the most clicks on the commercial newspaper websites, and then just put together a poor copy. We need our public broadcaster to be all about quality!

  10. brian larcom

    It isn’t just clickbait stories, it’s the whole atmosphere of commercial TV which has been adopted, including its politics. Have you seen ABC breakfast news? What a pair of utterly brainless dills, celebrating everything superficial, and incapable of asking meaningful questions. The Drum isn’t much better even when they do tackle “big issues”.

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