The ABC’s Output Critiqued by a Former Editor of The Australian newspaper

The ABC’s Output Critiqued by a Former Editor of The Australian newspaper, by Chris Mitchell, a former editor of The Australian .

Col [Allan,] editor in chief of The New York Post for 15 years … had a habit of asking the news desk and young reporters a question more news executives should ask: “Why is that a story?”

The rise of single issue lobby groups and their increasing influence on politics and the media makes this question more important now than ever. When the media privileges the views of such groups we invite the judgement of our readers and viewers.

Are we publishing these views because we personally support them and think they might improve the lives of our readers and listeners? Or are we just too lazy to generate our own news stories?

Anyone who listens to ABC radio weekend hourly news bulletins would suspect the latter. Often with a skeleton staff of young reporters and producers whose morning email inboxes will be full of press releases, too many Saturday and Sunday bulletins include stories about protests in favour of gay marriage, environmental causes and asylum seekers. …

Analysis of an afternoon of the ABC:

Let me describe my Friday news consumption on the NSW mid-north coast where I am without Foxtel.

All afternoon on ABC News 24 the Archibald Prize was discussed through the prism of gender equality. Same on radio, where the fact the finalists were half women was more important that the quality of the painting.

ABC 7.30 started, appropriately, with a report about the Nice terror attack. Item two concerned transgender schoolchildren in Shepparton. Item three was a piece about South Sudanese refugee basketballers in Brisbane. Lateline closed with a poll that showed 82 per cent of a self-selecting audience supported the end of the greyhound industry.

Lateline, like all ABC TV and radio programs I heard that day, was concerned to point out the Nice attacks had not been confirmed as terrorism. As if a truck full of weapons regularly mows down pedestrians along a two-kilometre stretch in Nice and drivers often die in police shootouts.

While on the terror question, why are ethnic community groups regularly given space or air time to spruik their views about the Islamophobia of Australian society? So while you are most likely to read stories about individuals radicalised by al-Qa’ida or ISIS in this newspaper, you are most likely to have heard such journalism described as Islamophobia on the national broadcaster or at Fairfax.

Why would such accusations be a story, as Col Allan might ask? Ordinary Australians know who is behind international terrorism. No wonder so many media consumers no longer trust journalists.