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Pages tagged "ABC News"

ABC Alumni Webinar with Gavin Fang, ABC Editorial Director

Gavin Fang took up his appointment as Editorial Director in January this year.  One of the ABC’s most experienced news executives, he began his ABC career in 2000 in the Perth newsroom.  After a stint as the ABC’s correspondent in Jakarta, he took on a succession of ever-more senior editorial roles in ABC News, ending as Deputy Director of News.  Along the way he had a hand in devising the More Relevant to More Australians News policy, and was ABC News Diversity lead. 

The Editorial Director and his team of editorial advisors are responsible for ensuring that ALL ABC content, screen, audio and online, complies with the ABCs Editorial Polices and Standards.

ABC Alumni board director Quentin Dempster spoke to Gavin Fang for a webinar exclusively for ABC Alumni subscribers on Tuesday 19 March.  This is not a word-for-word transcript but a summary that has been approved by Gavin for wider distribution.

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Antoinette Lattouf and the ABC’s independence

ABC Alumni is an association of former staff of the ABC who support a vigorous, independent national broadcaster.

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It's time to kill the myth of balance

During the referendum campaign, and since the overwhelming No vote, a chorus of respected journalists and media academics have declared that the Australian mass media, very much including the ABC, failed in their duty to the Australian public by slavishly adhering to the concept of ‘balance’, and by not calling out misinformation as and when they reported it. This is not the usual claim of bias by the Murdoch media or the No campaign: most of these critics clearly supported Yes. Among them, Mark Kenny, of the Canberra Times and the ANU’s Australian Studies Institute; Chris Warren, former Secretary of the Media Alliance, now at Crikey; Denis Muller of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism, in The Conversation; Nikki Savva in a recent column in the Nine newspapers; and the ABC’s staff-elected Board director, and 7.30’s chief political correspondent, Laura Tingle. [Some links may be paywalled]

ABC Alumni does not agree that the ABC’s journalists made a bad job of an all-but impossible task: reporting fairly on both sides of the Referendum debate, while simultaneously distinguishing between information, genuine opinion and outright misinformation. And the Share of Voice count, which the ABC has used for decades in elections, is a useful tool for assessing, and if necessary demonstrating, that the ABC’s coverage has been fair.

But as ABC Alumni Board director and former ABC Editorial Director ALAN SUNDERLAND points out in this article, Voice Tracker is a tool, and ‘balance’ is a concept, that can be misused, misunderstood, or simply abused.

A version of this article first appeared in the Nine Newspapers on Friday October 30.

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ACMA wrong on Four Corners' Fox program

The recent ACMA ruling on ABC Four Corners’ two-part program ‘Fox and the Big Lie’ sets a dangerous precedent, says ABC Alumni chair Jonathan Holmes. In a letter to ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin, Mr Holmes strongly argues that, in view of the judgments it has made in investigating the program, the ACMA cannot be taken seriously as an arbiter of journalistic practice. You can read the Alumni letter here. 


Muzzling Mulligan

Last week, the ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions announced that there would be no retrial of Bruce Lehrmann, because it would pose a “significant and unacceptable risk to the life of the complainant”, Brittany Higgins.

It’s a classic example of the dilemma that confronts our courts in the trial of alleged sexual offenders. The accused is entitled to the presumption of innocence, until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. He or she is also entitled to decline to give evidence – the “right to silence”. However, to plant a reasonable doubt in the minds of a jury, defence counsel will inevitably attempt to discredit the evidence of the complainant, who is usually the only other witness to the alleged offence. The result is too often a gruelling cross-examination that can retraumatise already vulnerable people, whether or not they avail themselves of the right to remain anonymous.

That is the issue with which Louise Milligan grapples in her 2020 book, Witness. It was the issue about which she was invited to speak to the Women Lawyers Association of the ACT at their gala dinner on 21 October this year. It is a matter of obvious public interest. But Milligan has now found herself under attack, not only in The Australian and on Sky News, but in the Commonwealth parliament, for things she did not say and does not believe.

This is News Corporation’s version of “cancel culture”, argues Jonathan Holmes – a phenomenon it has so often condemned.

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States of Neglect

Last Sunday, for the first time since 2014, the 7pm News on the main ABC channel ran for only 30 minutes. ABC Alumni director Alan Sunderland, a former senior manager in the News division, argues that this is “the final surrender in a long ABC retreat” from holding powerful state governments to account. “Something needs to be done,” he writes, “and now is the time to look again at the problem”. However, in a response received by the Alumni, the ABC's Director of News, Analysis and Investigations, Justin Stevens, strongly disagrees, saying that ABC state and territory coverage is comprehensive and impactful, delivering to audiences the national broadcaster has never reached before. Read both views here.  

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2022 Election Coverage: Is a 'rogue' News Corp threatening our democracy?

As several commentators have noted this week, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp outlets have gone ‘rogue’ on election coverage, making no attempt to comply with one of the media’s primary obligations to a democratic society — the provision of truthful news coverage. Instead, the dominant commercial media player has become a truth-distorting propagandist for one side, the Liberal-NLP Coalition, and has blatantly attacked Labor, Greens and independents, often without a shred of evidence. Both the Press Council and the ACMA seem impotent to rein in even the most appalling excesses. Add to this, News Corp’s overwhelming reach through newspapers, TV and online outlets – as well as its pernicious influence on other media – and questions arise about a fundamental threat to the health of our democracy. In this article first published in The Conversation, Denis Muller – Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Advancing Journalism at The University of Melbourne – sums up the main concerns.

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Keeping State and Local Governments Accountable

Since 2014, when the ABC stopped broadcasting state-based weekly current affairs, there’s been no consistent platform on ABC TV for holding state governments to account – even during the pandemic, when they wielded almost unprecedented power over our lives.

As for local government, traditionally that was the job of local newspapers.  But too many of them have closed, and the few local journalists who survive are starved of time and resources.

For the ABC to restore its coverage of state affairs, and increase its scrutiny of local government, would need a lot more funding than it currently gets.

But as Virginia Haussegger, who was one the ABC’s most experienced and respected news and current affairs presenters, points out in our latest campaign video, that’s what’s needed, urgently.



The Secret State Survives

Almost exactly two years ago, the Australian Federal Police executed a search warrant at the ABC’s headquarters in Ultimo, Sydney. That raid, and the search the day before of News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst’s home, produced an outcry. But what has happened since? Two inquiries, two reports, and precious little else, reports ABC Alumni’s press freedom spokesperson Jonathan Holmes. Australia still suffers from ‘excessive and unnecessary secrecy’.

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