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From The Vaults
<p>Courtesy ABC</p>

Courtesy ABC

Director of News at the ABC, Kate Torney

The ABC Plays Monopoly

The federal government has granted $10 million to ramp up the ABC's news division across radio, TV and digital. Here's how Aunty is poised to dominate Australian media with one hugely ambitious online market grab.


With Australia’s high-brow newspaper publisher, Fairfax Media, heading for its knees, commercial broadcaster Network Ten about to shed one third of its journalists and the Nine Network now in the hands of unforgiving US hedge funds, who is going to emerge as the titan of influence and reach in the Australian media?

The likely answer is your ABC.

There is a news revolution going on within Australia’s publicly funded national broadcaster, likely to reveal itself early next year when the ABC re-launches its unloved digital news arm, seeking the online audience share ABC bosses believe it should command.

<p>Mike Bowers/The Global Mail</p>

Mike Bowers/The Global Mail

The organisation has rich resources; some 1,000 people work directly for the ABC’s television, radio and online news — about 20 per cent of the corporation’s employees. And many more will soon be contributing to the ABC’s online news sites, under the corporation’s plan to follow the BBC, CNN and to some extent America’s public radio network NPR and have its journalists working across multiple platforms.

Not only do the changes herald renewed efforts by the ABC to garner mass audiences for its online news sites — and they come at the worst possible time for Fairfax Media, publishers of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age broadsheet newspapers. Crushed by a plummeting share price — Fairfax’s worth has dived from $4.5 billion to $900 million in three years — flagging newspaper circulations, tumbling advertising and the flight of many of its best journalists, Fairfax has banked its future on a move to digital publishing and the media group intends to erect paywalls for much of its content next year.

But now the online news competition for Fairfax — and for News Ltd’s The Australian, which moved to a pay-for-access system in October 2011 — will be increasingly from the ABC, as it puts more resources into online news and produces a re-designed more user-friendly website.

Unhappily for Fairfax and News Ltd, all of the ABC’s expanded content will continue to be free.

Who is going to emerge as the titan of influence and reach in the Australian media? The likely answer is your ABC.

Currently, according to Alexa global web traffic ratings, both News Ltd and The Sydney Morning Herald sites have many more users than the ABC; News.com.au is 10th on the ratings table — the highest ranked news site in Australia — and smh.com.au is ranked 14th. ABC.net.au sits at 24th, followed by theage.com.au at 26th.

While the ABC is coy about its ambitions on the ratings tables, its newly appointed head of news content, Gaven Morris, the creator of the ABC’s highly successful around-the-clock TV news channel ABC News 24, wants a visit to ABC online to become a daily habit for news followers.

“There is a real opportunity for us [online ABC news] to be much more of a habit for people than we have been,” says Morris in an interview with The Global Mail.

Says Kate Torney, the ABC’s director of news: “The ABC has always evolved to meet audience needs, whether it be through the introduction of television or more recently with online. I see enormous opportunities to improve the ABC’s digital news service and to make sure audiences can access their news on devices of their choice.”

The ABC is in the midst of gathering market research about what users think of its news sites and what changes would make the sites more appealing to them. But Morris has already acknowledged the need for change: “The feedback on our site is that it’s hard to use, that it’s hard to find your way around, that ‘We know the ABC has got a lot of good content but sometimes it just feels like we can’t find it.’ So we could clean that up, we could make the experience much more user-friendly, much more intuitive,” says Morris.

<p>Courtesy ABC</p>

Courtesy ABC

Head of ABC News 24 and News Online Gaven Morris

Aside from the redesign of the ABC’s online news sites, they will also provide more content, and it will be more varied and more rapidly produced.

According to a document distributed to senior ABC staff last month — and passed to The Global Mail — the ABC plans to increase the number of reporters working on stories of national impact, that can be run in all states on radio, television and especially online.

The ABC will establish what the document refers to as a central production desk, staffed around the clock. It will package national and international stories from both the ABC’s staff and external news agencies for television and radio, and produce text-based stories for the ABC’s online news sites, as well as for social-media sites.

The document emphasises that the ABC management wants to break down the old barriers inside the organisation that have previously quarantined news staff according to what platforms they’re working on, be it television, radio or online. Instead ABC news staff will be required to move to what the document describes as a story-centric, rather than platform-based, way of working.

“ABC News needs to eliminate unnecessary duplication in news gathering, to free up resources to focus on original journalism,” says the document.

So has the ABC calculated that early next year — when users can expect the arrival of the Fairfax paywalls — offers the best moment for the public broadcaster to capture the online audience and lure it away from Fairfax online?

Morris concedes that the ABC’s intentions for a larger online news audience are helped by Fairfax’s paywall plans: “Well, I think absolutely. People will be in the online and digital market place and they are always going to be reluctant to pay for that because up until now all of the news organisations in this business have chosen to give their content away free.

“It’s a big change to then say to the audience, ‘Okay… for the whole of the first 20 years of the internet and the online experience, we gave it away free and now we are going to start charging for it.’ For some people, that is going to be hard to get their heads around.”

“People will be in the online and digital market place and they are always going to be reluctant to pay for that because up until now all of the news organisations in this business have chosen to give their content away free.”

So the moment is opportune, but Morris points out that it’s Fairfax and News Ltd which are changing the online landscape by erecting paywalls — not the ABC.

“If we provide a good, compelling news service, will more people come to us? Hopefully. But that’s a decision that commercial companies are making because they are now trying to monetise a part of their business that they didn’t before,” Morris says. “So we are not changing our behaviour in that sense; we are simply trying to provide a universal service under the charter that we’ve got for taxpayers to pay us.”

While Fairfax, thus far, has been relatively subdued in its response to the ABC’s expansion into further online territory, News Ltd’s Australian CEO Kim Williams — once an ABC executive himself — has not held back. In June, when asked on Sky News (part owned by News Ltd) if the ABC’s online expansion plans troubled him, Williams ripped into his old employer.

He said: “Look, it’s a complex question and it’s something that I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say troubles me. The ABC is obviously a large employer of journalists and produces a lot of journalism; [and] breaks remarkably few stories relative to the amount of money that’s invested in it — if I am truthful and accurate and objective in assessing it, which I think is something the ABC is often not good at. The ABC has a remarkable appetite for self-congratulation in the most extravagant away. I’m troubled by the fact that in many of its online offerings the ABC competes without having any of the accountability that its commercial counterparts do have and that’s clearly awkward in an environment where many costs are pressured and where many employment pressures arise from that. At times I think the ABC is misplaced and misconceived in a lot of what it does.”

<p>AAP/Alan Porritt</p>

AAP/Alan Porritt

News Ltd CEO Kim Williams

This was not a new theme for a Murdoch man. Rupert Murdoch’s son James, also a high-ranked News Corp executive, launched a blistering attack on the BBC’s foray into free, online news when he delivered the 2009 McTaggart lecture.

James Murdoch said that the scale and scope of the BBC — Britain’s publicly funded broadcaster — had reached a chilling level, and the young Murdoch singled out the growth of the BBC’s free online news sites.

“Dumping free, state-sponsored news on the market makes it incredibly difficult for journalism to flourish on the Internet. Yet it is essential for the future of independent digital journalism that a fair price be charged for news to people who value it. We seem to have decided as a society to let independence and plurality wither. To let the BBC throttle the news market and then get bigger to compensate.”

Morris, however, doesn’t necessarily see the ABC’s expanded and richer online news content as being in competition with that offered by News Ltd and Fairfax.

Says Morris: “What we shouldn’t be side-tracked on is trying to compete with newspaper publishers in writing text copy, because that is what they are great at and always will be good at. The service that we can provide is, I think, a slightly different one to that… What I am saying is that I think the multimedia stuff is where we can be stronger and can provide a better service and so match that with a good, agile news service, but let’s not get hung up in trying to be an online newspaper.”

“I think the multimedia stuff is where we can be stronger and can provide a better service and so match that with a good, agile news service, but let’s not get hung up in trying to be an online newspaper.”

It can be argued that the ABC’s online expansion makes sense in the context of the changed habits of Australians. According to the ABC’s internal documents, some 23 per cent of Australians now cite online as their main source of news, and 88 per cent of all Australian internet users access news online. More than half (fifty two per cent) of Australian smart phone users regularly use their phone to stay informed of news updates.

And Australians — like many other nationalities — are increasingly less reliant on regular scheduled news bulletins and are instead dipping in and out of web sites, smart phone and tablet platforms throughout the day for news updates. Consequently, network television news audiences have turned downward overall and, unsurprisingly, 60 per cent of viewers say — according to ABC documents — that most of what they hear and see on the nightly television news is no longer news to them.

Thus, the ABC is merely following its audience online. And though the ABC Charter concerns itself with content on the airwaves and not digital media — it was last updated in 1982 — the ABC maintains that its overriding obligation is to provide news, information and entertainment to all Australians.

ABC executives say the broadcaster’s experience with the two-year-old rolling news channel ABC24 has exposed to it a much pacier news culture – ideal for online. The digital television channel changed the ABC's slow-moving schedule with an energy they now aim to translate to online.

Forgotten, perhaps, is that the ABC launched its first website 17 years ago; that the ABC has an online offering is not news. But its rapid expansion — and the prospect that the national broadcaster might dominate the online news space with free online content—will be treated as old news by Australia’s commercial media, which is struggling to garner a paying online news audience.

40 comments on this story
by Marilyn

If they stop parrotting the Australian or starting every second so called news report with "the oppostion says" we might all learn something new every day.

October 25, 2012 @ 6:11am
by David

Does anyone else feel that for its size, the ABC is severely lacking in regular investigative journalism, especially smaller stories?

October 25, 2012 @ 9:54am
by Roger

What Marilyn said plus Why do they have so many IPA staff on their shows , all the time ? Q&A was ok , but its turned into a Tony Jones show and guests just talk all over other guests when they talking and some just keep shouting over other people. At the moment ABC stands for Abbotts Broadcasting Company . Ps News Ltd paywall has a big hole in it and anybody can climb over for Free or go through the Google door . PPS I get a lot of news now through Twitter , its quicker and Crikey Blogs.

October 25, 2012 @ 10:17am
by Mactig

ABC needs to take a leaf out of the book of PBS Newhour where they interview commentators in the know and experts rather than politicians. The ABC insists , in Q&A and Insiders, to give too much time to pollies who just blah blah their way thought the daily slogan without giving us any new insight into issues.

October 25, 2012 @ 10:46am
by Tony

I have gradually moved my use of media to the ABC and publications such as the Global mail, Crikey. and the Conversation because I am not happy with the commercial medias content not there advertising, though I do not like advertising much. I am prepare to pay for news and I do through my taxes and wallet, but since I am spending my money I do not want to waste it on opinion and politically objectives inspired content. The Commercial media is on the way out just as the nation no longer all sit around watching number 96, but in the case of Commercial media it is they who took the short term gains at the cost of long term survival.

October 25, 2012 @ 11:08am
by Jarrod Booth

Gosh if News 24 is the model then I daresay Fairfax has little to fear.

It is getting better, but the ABC has had a real problem with:
1) Originality. There is nothing in News 24 that isn't done by the hundreds of news channels around the world, including the highly irritating rolling news headlines where the same thing is repeated over and over and over and over again
2) Depth. Rarely is any historical detail or wider analysis included in the news headlines. With so much time afforded by a 24 hour channel, you should get more detail reading a newspaper byline.
3) Critical analysis. There seems to be a "never say no" approach to accepting media releases. "Government criticised for X" is the headline, nevermind that the criticising party is the opposition, hardly a worthwhile source. They need to take a leaf out of NHK's book and be really critical about reporting "news" that is fed to them by lobby groups, political parties and businesses.

Anyway, the content of ABC News isn't the question here, it's the presence. Free online news will only ever work with independent government broadcasters, and given they seem to be the best example worldwide at resisting bias and reporting on worthwhile news, it's no shame.

October 25, 2012 @ 11:32am
by Harley

You know when the general perception that the ABC is 'left-wing,' our country is too far gone to ever recover from the right-wing tabloid trash so many people are addicted to.
You can report the facts on stories like any decent journalist and media outlet should but the average Joe Bloggs would rather read alarmist stories which are nothing but editorials vaguely guised as news pieces. I mean, it makes much more sense for Andrew Bolt to report on climate change as opposed to those boring old scientists. What on earth would they know?

Good luck to the ABC but I'm afraid its only going to appeal to the existing, rather than the newly attracted.

October 25, 2012 @ 11:37am
by Andrea Shoebridge

One can only hope that integration of staff improves the quality of the ABC's news and current affairs. I'd like greater objectivity and less personal commentary from the ABC. At the moment, SBS news is head and shoulder above any other television news. I switch from SBS to the ABC for more local content at 7.00 each evening and the contrast is very apparent even down to an extra five seconds of an identical item run by SBS that brings some balance to the the item that is missing from the ABC version.

October 25, 2012 @ 11:55am
by Mark

I have lived in Australia for 6 years and have enjoyed the ABC, particularly Radio National. I have never got used to the Free to Air TV stations and have always been confused by inconsistent time slots and parochial news. I subscribe to the SMH through the Ipad App, but will not pay for it once the start charging. I will happily abandon this masthead and will not miss the many contradictory stories in each edition on the cost of property in Sydney. I am not opposed to paying for good content. I subscribe to New York Times Online and am not bombarded with ads as I am with the SMH app. I use ABC iview for all "serious" TV watching , Foxtel for Football (soccer), Rugby Union and cricket and then I buy good TV series when they are on sale at JB Hi Fi including such titles as Breaking Bad, the Wire, Curb your Enthusiasm etc. Of course SBS has some fine offerings and their new Ipad and iphone are a good start. Of course the Global Mail is fantastic and would pay for it and it will be interesting to see where the publication is in 5 years time. I am not sure how the commercial free to air can possibly compete with the ABC going into the future particularly against a backdrop of entertainment content easily available on the net and a publicly funded and expanding ABC. The commercial free to air model is surely broken

October 25, 2012 @ 11:57am
by Woody

What you seem to have forgotten Bernard is that the ABC is not actually free. We've already paid for it via taxation. It has to be said too, that among all the things that our taxes get spent on the ABC can only be seen as a success. They do much more to represent all of Australia and are by far more balanced in their reporting than any commercial outlet. They are a much loved and trusted source of information.

While many media organisations have seen their business model falling to pieces in front of their eyes - this probably has more to do with their former hubris and inability to change. They are now playing catchup in technology while butchering what made them great media outlets in the first place - the staff.

And in an age when content is king the likes of Fairfax are destroying themselves. What made them different was that they were not tabloid. Instead of protecting their own space they are now competing with News Limited. Not a smart move.

If the ABC does become a monopoly of information I actually see that as a good thing. Maybe people will be more informed as the current tabloid format is increasingly opinion with less and less genuine investigative journalism happening by their own volition.

October 25, 2012 @ 12:38pm
by Megan

The ABC needs to scrap its tired programming - especially on local radio - and start doing some local journalism. Yes it's boring - but the ABC is the national broadcaster - and at present it isn't living up to its charter. Certain topics are clearly offlimits and important information is being withheld from the community.

I'm surprised that the Global Mail is parroting neoliberal "free market" talking about public broadcasting - thought you were supposed to be an alternative to the MSN - not an echo chamber?

October 25, 2012 @ 12:44pm
by Ryan

God help us if ABC becomes our main source of news, i would much prefer SBS to take the lead. Some parts of ABC radio, 4 Corners and 7.30 Report are the only elements I see as really adding value. 4 Corners and 7.30 report style reporting should be the foundation of their expansion of quality journalism. Not further adapting to the useless 24 hrs news cycle of online media.

October 25, 2012 @ 4:09pm
by Max Willoughby

I'm all for publicly funded news gathering and distribution but it has to justify its costs, and at present the ABC doesn't. In fact, too often its news are a pale and late imitation of the beatups being presented across at The Australian, and its journalists too frequently fail to avoid cliches, biased reports and just plain [and blatant] inaccuracies. Given the number of employees, we should expect a lot better. As for the ABC news website, it's woeful in my opinion. By the way, calling ABC news24 'highly successful' is satire at its best.

As for The Global Mail, its journos, the new format, its the best thing in news since sliced bread. Congratulations for great news 'paper'.

October 25, 2012 @ 5:34pm
by MasterChef

I gave up on commercial news a long time ago.
Having a career in news media I graze Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, Radio Netherlands (RNW), SBS World News, BBC News and ABC all from the comfort of my iPhone to get up to date from various geographical angles.
If asked ‘who do I read the most?’ I'd have to say ABC (but only because I am Australian and I live in Australia).
Global mail, keep up the good work, you’re renewing my faith in free, quality journalism.

October 25, 2012 @ 8:14pm
by David H

The internal ABC document referred to wallows in the spin '...central production desk...break down the old barriers...story-centric...original journalism', of a management trying to convince those on the shop floor that those upstairs are in control. A responsible reader has got to ask the question of themselves, 'How many times has this tripe lived up to the grandiose visions offered?'

Concepts such this one are usually done either with good but naive intentions or created to demonstrate to the board that, 'We in management are doing somethIng to justify our salaries and gain a nice reference on our CV before we move on into the more lucrative commercial sector,' (a.k.a. Kim Williams). I bet a few wry grins were exchanged between experienced staffers...and to be frank, as a taxpayer I find it rather disingenuous that the authors of this document (there'll be more than one, I guarantee it), would believe something like this is going to fly given the history of the ABC and it past efforts at evolution.

As to the claim of the success of ABC News 24 I would argue this not to be true but simply more spin. As with any twenty-four hour news service it is plagued by content, both available amount and quality. Repeat after repeat of programs to fill time, The Drum being one that readily comes to mind, and the inclusion of inane events that in fact could hardly be considered newsworthy, suggests that ABC News 24 is a venture to capture some of the commercial audience rather than a quality current affairs/news offering.

This lurch towards more entertainment orientated current affairs/news offerings is reflected in the deterioration of once quality ABC shows such as Q&A (a.k.a. The Tony Jones Show) and Four Corners. To be fair there has been the welcome addition of a hard edge to interviews on the 7:30 Report. To a discerning viewer the ABC is seeking a more mainstream audience, however I would have rather witnessed the ABC attempt to raise an audience from the squalor of ACA or Today Tonight to its level rather than the reverse.

October 25, 2012 @ 10:14pm
by Norry

"Network Ten about to shed one third of it's journalists" , I didn't realize they or the other commercial channels had any ! But to give them the benefit of the doubt, that would leave two.

October 26, 2012 @ 4:53am
by Shane

Good on yer ABC !! Fairfax Media paywalls coming up .... who gives a stuff ?? Paywall arrival = my disappearance from their website.

October 26, 2012 @ 12:19pm
by Gordon

I am a news freak and never watch news 24. I would gladly exchange the entire enity for News Radio being placed on a wavelength that does not scream & die anywhere near a tramline.

As to the whole public v private thing: I feel their pain, I'm glad my business does not have a govt funded competitor BUT I wouldn't watch commercial TV news & current affairs if you paid me. I can put up with the Ads (just), but not the drivel.

These opinion/comment type sites are a whole 'nother thing tho. you could probably make it free to read and charge 10c to put in your 10c worth. You'd clean up.

October 26, 2012 @ 4:32pm
by xiaoecho

Why on earth would anyone pay for the biased regurgitated opinion that passes for' journalism' in the mainstream media? The mainstreams reporting of the Prime Ministers seminal speech on sexism is a case in point - how ripped off would you be to find the ENTIRE MSM reporting that Gillards speach was in support of Slipper - a complete fiction which completely ignored what the entire world and two million youtube viewers noticed.......and you had paid for THAT? No thanks!

October 26, 2012 @ 5:55pm
by Michael from Hobart

I have always trusted the ABC to give me independent news coverage.

Recently, however, I have witnessed their coverage of domestic politics to become often puerile and occasionally erroneous. Surely, as the private sector news gathering organisations shed talent, there are some talented and insightful political journalists they could recruit. A glaring example is their Sunday morning television program Insiders. Apart from Barry Cassidy, that program has difficulty casting anyone with even a modicum of political wisdom. Instead the viewer is bored by the usual list of suspects, barracking squads for one side of politics or the other.

Apart from that recent and glaring shortfall the ABC offer the best news and current affairs content in Australia today by my reckoning. Good on them for enhancing their online presence. If they do they'll regain my patronage.

October 27, 2012 @ 7:59am
by Richard

Amazingly Kim williams ignores the strictures placed on the ABC in terms of it's charter and the need for balance - a word not in the vocabulary of New Ltd. All power to the ABC just so long as it sticks to it's charter of objectivity and does not dumb down it's news by going for the sensational in place of content - something 7.30 appears to be doing since the departure of Kerry O'Brien.

October 28, 2012 @ 12:11am
by Greg

I refuse to read or listen to the biased News Limited outpourings, in the same way that I ignore The Bolt Report (Re-named: "The Liberal Party Half-Hour"). I read / listen to the ABC and SBS, and Guardian UK, and I think Al Jezeera provides some good in-depth reporting without the usual Anglo-American-European biases - as does the Global Mail. However, I do not accept what even these respected news sources say without double-checking and applying my own highly-developed knowledge of domestic and foreign affairs to what they tell me. I do, however, note a sad tendence towards tabloidism by the ABC over the last few years - perhaps that is caused by the fact that the domination by News Ltd is so pervasive that any journo that wants to include a non-public broadcaster in his panalpy of possible career choices must needs toe their appalling line. However, things are not entirely dark at the ABC yet, so, more power to them. I will refuse to pay for my public news, except by way of taxes, and if there is ever an ABC paywall, I will search the net for free overseas sources that I would assess as professional and unbiased - nothing owned by Murdoch or his croniesof the Right of course.

October 28, 2012 @ 3:24pm
by Harry

I am an "Age" digital only subscriber and supplement my news and analysis with the ABC. I have observed though that the ABC is these days much more slanted to conservative comment and analysis. I believe this is a consequence of Howard government Board appointees (Mark Scott and Keith Windscuttle for example) and these people have skewed the broadcaster away from the middle of the political spectrum and I consider that unfortunate, especially as conservative voices already dominate most of the commercial media. News Ltd for instance.

October 28, 2012 @ 6:08pm
by Harry

ABC News 24 The Drum segments seems to be infested by such voices of independence as the IPA. The Drum also tends to have MP's from both major parties arguing the point over various issues and they predictably go into the trenches with little more than point-scoring.

October 28, 2012 @ 6:13pm
by Patrick Cavanagh

I watch ABC news 24 and have done so since its start.My perception is that it has transitioned into a replica of the commercial stations and their tabloid format and is not the hard quality news that was the original attraction for me.
The formula is the same as the commercial stations-two hosts with lots of chat,jokes and gigglling presenters,a 15 minute "light"news roundup,a emphasis on sport for half of the content and predictable social and the same predictable political commentators espousing the standard orthodoxies-gay marriage,pro refugee,pro labor.All provided with a healthy taxpayer subsidy.
What might have been-thank goodness for cable TV and the BBC.

October 30, 2012 @ 2:32pm
by Philip Machanick

I disagree that "news consumers are confronting new paywalls": The Australian for example is hardly a purveyor of news. It's all right-wing editorialising and climate denial drivel. If anyone is stupid enough to pay to read that, that's fine with me. The less it's read the better.

October 31, 2012 @ 7:36pm
by Douglas

The right-wing bias is intolerable! I was an ABC supporter and defender all my life. In the last few years I find I cannot watch it without wanting to vomit all over the sofa.

November 1, 2012 @ 12:41pm
by max

Douglas, your ipad is stuck and you are clearly reading things upside down!
ABC News Right Wing??? It could not be a bigger fan club of Gillard, Rudd, Swan the Greens and any other left wing leader.

November 1, 2012 @ 3:00pm
by Douglas

Oh really, max? Some people are like Pavlov's dogs. Say to them "ABC" and they respond "left wing".

Got any evidence to back up your claim that the ABC " could not be a bigger fan club of Gillard, Rudd, Swan the Greens and any other left wing leader."?

In the meantime, some reading for you:

http://www.abcgonetohell.net/

November 1, 2012 @ 3:24pm
by Markie Linhart

Although sometime nights I wonder who's driving the engine at my local (Melbourne) ABC TV News, for reliable and mostly balanced reporting I think the ABC is performing very well.

ABC News on-line together with The Drum produce very good content. Some of the daily news pages such as PoliticOz and The Shortlist Daily often reference the reader to ABC content that I've already read!

I'm just waiting for the abuse tirade from probably the same people who indignantly - and without any real logic - poo-pooed the launch of ABCNews24, inferring that 24 hour news content was the bailiwick of the commercial sector.

As for ABCNews24 morphing into a replica of the commercials - in the words of one J.Mcenroe: "You cannot be serious!"

November 1, 2012 @ 3:33pm
by Bob Smith

Please spare me from the sanctimonious rantings of Kim Williams, News Ltd CEO. He is often slated to be an educated, cosmopolitan man... much in the same fashion as his boss Murdoch. However Murdoch is not known for his fostering of independent thought within the News Ltd behemoth (at least not for very long) and I don't think Williams falls far from the tree.

I have not read a single word from Williams in all of his high profile defences of 'freedom of the press', 'free speech', 'anti-regulation' 'the public's right to know' etc, which acknowledges the crucial role that his company played in bringing about this situation...that is, the crimes it committed which are still being investigated on a couple of continents, the blatant breeches of journalistic codes of ethics, the unhealthy power relationships with politicians, the readiness to wield its media power in cases of non-compliance, its often blatantly partisan reporting etc etc.

When Williams can bring himself and his delusional employer to some moderate form of organisational introspection and acknowledgement then I may feel the need to read his thoughts and consider them as anything other than self-serving tosh.

November 7, 2012 @ 6:22pm
by Peter Best

The ABC bends so far over backwards in its attempt to be fair that it falls flat on its face. Look at the mining tax story on line today, a large slab of which is utter bilge from the coalition. This absurd contortion in the name of "balance" is not fair to ABC readers and viewers. If it's not news then it doesn't deserve a place in the story.

February 8, 2013 @ 4:38pm
by Peter Best

By the way, I was alerted by Global Mail to the superb Der Spiegel site and I recommend it highly.

February 8, 2013 @ 4:49pm
by John

Oh, great. I suppose this means nine million dollars worth more stories leading in with "The Coalition says..." Pass.

February 8, 2013 @ 7:42pm
by Bob Auld

Newspapers claim to give the people what they want! Oh yeah, when were we ever asked may I enquire? Apparently we must want bad new stories after bad news stories with any blanks filled in with stuff about so-called celebrities. I have three adult children, none of whom subscribe to a newspaper unlike their father who once did and their grandfather who always did. Two of said children go to ABC online and I am starting this very day!

February 10, 2013 @ 8:13am
by Randy Rose

Labors poor polling leads to more money for the ABC = Political advertising

February 10, 2013 @ 10:45am
by Marcus Finch

I use 4 sources for news and analysis , The Age online the most, then the ABC's offering, then The Conversation and The Global Mail.
I used to look at The OZ online ,alas it turned into some sort of Fox News thing.
I look forward to the improved version of ABC online, it will motivate the others to up their game.

A healthy democracy requires a well funded and independent public broadcaster, large corporations and monopolies hate healthy democracies, they are much harder to manipulate.

February 10, 2013 @ 3:13pm
Show previous 37 comments
by ben

hope we don't have to listen to more of the wooden amateur amanda vanstone and her biased programmes ......

February 10, 2013 @ 10:29pm
by John

On 08 February 2011 ABC News Online featured a photo of the Treasurer, with the headline beneath: "Dog's breakfast". The headline related to a quote from the Coalition.

The Coalition's take on things formed the basis for the headline. The headline portrayed Labor in a bad light.

On 11 February 2013 ABC News Online featured a photo of the Coalition leader. Under the photo, the caption: "Friends of the workers". The headline again related to a quote from the Coalition.

Once again the Coalition's take on things formed the basis for the headline. This time, the headline portrayed the coalition in a positive light.

In addition the second story was completely unbalanced, containing three quotes, from 1) Mr Abbott, 2) Liberal MP Kevin Andrews, 3) Liberal-friendly business group. None from the government or Labor Party.

More right wing favouritism from the ABC, with the wording of headlines selected to defame Labor and influence the public in a manner likely to be favourable to the coalition.

February 11, 2013 @ 4:40pm
by Elizabeth

I believe the ABC is a very important component in our democracy and long may this service thrive. At least the ABC aims to present unbiased news and views or at least demonstrates various viewpoints.
Competition in news is, however, necessary and should be encouraged and supported from the private sector.

February 17, 2013 @ 10:20am
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