“Stop the dumbing down of the ABC,” is a headline that hints at a very defensible anxiety. But it’s also one you and I might use as a guide to a history of a more general “dumbing down”. Which is to say, the frequent claim that the ABC has been dumbed down has itself been dumbed right down. Once, there were sharp minds to dissect the truly dull. Now, our best hope is for a butter-knife precision.
Guardian media writer Amanda Meade is not a bad butcher. But her recent “death by a thousand cuts” take on ABC’s Radio National could do with some honing. Just as this week’s Sydney Morning Herald comment on “dumbing down” uses the measure of time to make its central case, so does the Graun’s: the day will bring us fewer minutes of current affairs and news analysis, ergo the ABC is dumb.