Feb 21, 2018

‘The worst couple of weeks in the ABC’s modern era’

A former senior journalist has told Crikey the last few weeks at the ABC have been so demoralising internally that senior journalists he'd spoken to are even considering leaving.

Emily Watkins — Media reporter

Emily Watkins

Media reporter

The last few weeks have been more rocky than usual for the ABC. After handing back the now-infamous filing cabinet and then apologising to former PM Kevin Rudd over a story it ran based on something in that cabinet, last week the broadcaster courted new controversy by pulling down an analysis piece by its chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici.

And, even before that last blunder, one former ABC foreign correspondent and senior journalist, who asked not to be named, told Crikey the situation at the national broadcaster was "diabolical".

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55 thoughts on “‘The worst couple of weeks in the ABC’s modern era’

  1. IanG

    When senior management have to have a “focus group” to work out how to engage with staff they are clearly not up to the job. Still they are not alone, senior management in this country is by and large out for themselves not their staff. Too much pay does that – it makes them greedy!

    1. klewso

      Class wars – the reverse to what we’re usually dictated – because they’re waging it.

    2. Desmond Graham

      Agree – if management have to have a focus group regarding management – they shouldn’t be there as they are not managing.

      Another indicator of bad management is when one walks into a company and you are
      confronted with a framed large typed MISSION STATEMENT – then you know the management is incompetent – they need to be reminded constantly what they are there for.

  2. John Highfield

    A well funded and independent ABC (and SBS) are the essential elements in maintaining the side-by-side broadcasting model which has served Australia so well for 85 years. Rupert Murdoch has waged a campaign against the remit of independent public broadcasters on three continents for decades. The conservative side of politics has assisted his ambition by de-funding and aggressively disparaging the public system. However, it’s the appointment of senior staff and board members without a history in the public broadcasting sector – or knowledge of the “Reithian Tradition” – which is causing most damage. This new culture, putting conservative people in charge of vital editorial areas who adhere to the demands of the corporate hierarchical dictate, rather than fearless journalistic pursuit, is the underlying problem. That, and a cohort of marketing people and consultants with no concept of public broadcasting culture trying to impose fanciful programming experimentations which defy the very reason the Australian public rates the ABC at the top of the rating scale for most valued institutions.

    1. klewso

      A (foreign) cancer on our democracy – one that Turnbull won’t recognise; preferring instead to concentrate on other “foreign malignant influences on our democratic system” : while Murdoch gives good head/PR/press.

  3. AR

    Let’s just remember to paraphrase Jefferson – which is preferable, government without independent news outlets or independent news outlets without government?
    Germany has been, what is it 4-5 months without? Belgium managed 18 months at one point and in Italy it is the norm to go months without that particular blight on human happiness.

  4. zut alors

    The Alberici story is back on the ABC news website – with en editor’s note explaining anything interpreted as opinion has been removed. Frankly, I couldn’t tell much difference between the original & this version…along with a flattering photo of Turnbull waving Oz farewell on boarding his flight to the USA.

  5. Lesley Graham

    This is the problem with worrying over funding. This is why the ABC needs to be left to do what it does & get on with reporting whether the pollies like it or not, in respect of who they turn up as corrupt. They need to be left to get on with the job of reporting. This is where a similar process as the separation of powers needs to be in place in respect of the ABC & the government. John Howard (is a prime example) he interfered way too much due to his friendship with Donald Donaldson, which meant Auntie was basically gagged for a large part of Howard’s tenure. Which with new management & an ever degrading of the quality of reporting now because of the fact that half the world seems to have an opinion & those that have actually done their research & should be being heard are being shut down. Because of the inanities (shock jocks & the bloggers) continue to spout, by those who really have no idea, it seems that the only thing that matters is “opinion” & don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. This is where the government needs to leave Auntie to sort out it’s own internal problems & to get on with it. This is the problem in this country, the politicians are largely mouth pieces with little intellect to really make sensible decisions.

  6. Wob Bobson

    ABC managements decimation of serious investigative journalism is sickening. Bloated diseased rats feeding on the integrity of our national broadcaster while the Federal Government hatches ever more demoralising plots to bring it to heel.

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