Friday, March 9, 2012

How To Get Ahead At The ABC

FROM Gerard Henderson's latest Media Watch Dog, a disquieting insight into the workings of the ABC

Thanks for acknowledging my note.

You are paid a good salary (by the taxpayer) to edit The Drum and The Drum Online.

You should be able to check the facts yourself, from publicly available material, without seeking guidance from Robert Manne – whose memory is not the best these days and who seems too lazy to check his missives before forwarding them to you.

Gerard Henderson

The entire exchange is well worth reading. If all Henderson asserts is true, Bundoora Bob's article was wrong on the facts, grossly wrong, and Henderson has been slimed as a result.

Is the ABC prepared to publish a retraction or apology? Not your nelly! Bruce Belsham, Green's boss, attempts to explain why the national broadcaster does not live by the "quality journalism" standards so often advocated by the likes of Jonathan Holmes. 

Hi Gerard
This is just a quick note as Jonathan Green’s manager with responsibility for The Drum. I’ve had a look at your comments about the Robert Manne piece and reviewed further investigation by The Drum staff. To my mind the points you raise as factual errors are in fact strongly contested with disputed evidence. Some issues, such as defining your criticism of Bosch are matters of interpretation.  I’m therefore uncomfortable with any alterations or  editor’s note which adjudicates the contest.  This was after all an opinion piece in a clearly signposted opinion section of the ABC site. To my mind the appropriate course is to offer you a right of reply which the Drum will undertake to publish and in which you can make your points. I look forward to reading it if you choose to submit something.

I take your point about fact checking in opinion pieces. It’s something we do and take seriously, but you will also appreciate that on an opinion site the dividing line between comment and fact is blurred to say the least.
Bruce Belsham

Just so all of us who are obliged to support the ABC can be clear on this, Belsham's idea of his organisation's responsibility to do right by truth amounts to this,  "the dividing line between comment and fact is blurred to say the least."

That would be bad news at the best of times, a senior ABC journalist insisting his people can publish anything they wish so long as inaccuracies are able to be spun as "comment". But it gets worse.

If this tweet from ABC Managing Director Mark Scott doesn't chill you, then it is probable you also believe Marieke Hardy's constant presence on the ABC is due solely to talent.

 In case some readers' eyes cannot quite make out the message, this is the pertinent bit:

"Two major appointments .... Bruce Belsham - head of Current Affairs" 

Just to repeat, a man who regards facts as entirely subjective is now supervising Four Corners, 7.30, and Lateline.

Read the whole thing. And remember, when an Abbott government takes charge, it cannot be allowed to make John Howard's mistake and set about reforming the ABC with little more than good intentions, a bit of whining and a few limp slaps.

UPDATE: For some reason, and it may be no more than a technical glitch, the 747 reader comments at the foot of Bundoora Bob's article have gone walkabout. For those interested -- the idle, the curious, and, perhaps, libel lawyers looking for a brief --  they still exist in the cached version.

UPDATE II: This is the element of Bundoora Bob's article which Henderson says is false:

...we know that Henderson was funded generously by Larry Adler's FAI Insurance. When the National Companies and Securities Commission conducted a raid on its offices, Henderson used his column in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age to launch a vitriolic attack on its chairman, Henry Bosch.

There is no "opinion" there. They are assertions, nothing more nor less.

And Belsham has now been installed atop the ABC's Current Affairs unit!


  1. It has long been the ABC's standard operating procedure to treat complaints dismissively. This results in a lot of criticism being directed via blogs instead.
    The organisation was founded way back when Radio was in its infancy. It did sterling service for many years, right up until around its 50th birthday. Since then it's all been downhill, with attitudes hardening against conservatives, current affairs bearing the imprint of those attitudes, and now even their locally produced drama is often a vehicle for more subliminal social engineering claptrap.
    Since it has become incapable of presenting unbiassed coverage, its role as an honest alternative is long gone. It may as well be sold off entirely.

    1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.March 9, 2012 at 6:50 PM

      ABC news has a weird mesmerising force though. The Irish Ape and I sit at home and verbally troll at it. A bit like an electronic punching bag. One day they will feel the pain.

    2. and the morbid thrall of watching the ABC overcomes you in different ways on different nights. Mondays are for being thunderstruck by political bias ... then it's twentysomething vulgarity night ... then we-re all-family with marieke and denton.

      Interesting: Apparently small animals isolated on islands become progressively larger, generation by generation. Mice the size of rats etc. Well the ABC is that same closed little world, where insignificant and negligible creatures have swollen with their egos and conceits into grandiose parodies. The rats can't survive competition when it arrives, but they do shrink back to normal eventually.

    3. A result of the "long march through the institutions" it seems. The left/greens infested the universities first, infected students, who are now in charge of the ABC. A lot of bad things came out of the hippy-dippy 60s in the universities. The current ABC for one, but anti-dam and anti-nuclear faddists too. And perhaps worst of all: "social justice".

    4. You forgot 'sustainability'. Theirs!


  2. Here here to selling it off.....

    1. A very optimistic aim, but who would buy it when there is practically nothing of value?

  3. He writes some good stuff but wish he'd format the issue better. Needs clearer sections with hyperlinked headings to the entries.

  4. Now listen, you intemperate malcontents. There is a way to give all parties exactly what they want and therefore resolve the resentment of the people paying for a service that relentless attacks their interests. First, the staff - the unsackable collective - are given 100% ownership of the ABC, thus formalising their personal stake and investment in a terribly misunderstood business; however the Australian government retains ownership of all TV and radio broadcasting signals and infrastructure. In the final part of the bargain, taxpayers are relieved of their obligation to fund what will surely by one of Australia's most popular broadcasters, which already has high ratings in both TV and radio in all states. It's a win-win, people, which will shut up all those libertarians: an ABC totally funded by the market!

    1. an ABC totally funded by the market!


    2. Good idea but I'd prefer an open market sale to the highest bidder. The most cashed-up media conglomerate today? News Ltd. The wailing and gnashing of teeth would be a marvel to behold.

    3. No, look, actual sale of the whole ABC would be very difficult to get through any parliament no matter how good an idea it is. The solution is have the board sell of stuff like the JJJ and RN networks to start. Then sell ABC 2,3 & 4. Lastly sell ABC1 and local radio, leaving News Radio. That would slow the commies down a bit.

    4. I agree with Anthony Robinson. In addition to the part sale of the ABC, the Libs should abolish compulsory student unionism as soon as they get in. A large pile of cash attracts people, in this case the communists.

  5. "Just to repeat, a man who regards facts as entirely subjective is now supervising Four Corners, 7.30, and Lateline."

    Bunyip, in a normal world this would be shock horror stuff...

    Nowadays, it's just 'business' as usual.

    On our dime, of course, I'd expect nothing less.

    Fire. Them. All. Yabbott.

    Or. Else.

  6. I saw early on the expression "I’m therefore uncomfortable with any alterations ... ."

    "Uncomfortable with." Like when you want to leave the meeting urgently to go to the toilet for Number 2s?

    These blokes at the top of the sheltered workshop tree communicate with each other much like the girls on the mothers' committee at the local infants school, and otherwise unemployable useless public servants in their committees formed to discuss formation of committees.

    No-one has the wit or preparedness to say "I don't like it", back that up with a cogent argument and bring the exchange to a conclusion so they can get on with profitable business.

    It's little wonder there is no profitable business in view at any of the ABC offices.

    The estimable blogstrop says it ought to be sold off. What's to sell? Endless fables about 2.5% of the population and a smattering of uni student skits?

    They just built a new office for them all up here in QLD (because the wall paint in the last one made them sniffle or something) so I suppose there's a second hand quid in the new wheelie chairs and laptops we bought for every man, woman and unsure who turns up for "work" there.

    1. Fair cop - it's arguable that no commercial purpose can be found for the whole lot, people or properties. Whereas once it was a valuable national network in an emerging radio and TV environment (actually promoting a sense of national cohesiveness), it now stands as an unrepresentative (to at least half the voters) bastion of Fairfax-like luvvie agitprop. The locally produced drama and panel shows have an off flavour, while the best stuff still comes from overseas.
      Fairfax is currently going down, and the ABC in it's present complexion would be similarly uncompetitive in a commercial setting.

  7. Whether getting ahead or giving it, the slobbering love media infestation at TheirABC never fails to provide 1984 esque antics and perennial red flags aflutter, no matter how mean the socialist cause, how Hitlerian the agenda, no matter how tiny the support in the community.

  8. PhillipGeorge(c)2012March 10, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Flying Tiger,
    "support" is strange stuffing. The Prof repeated it the other day that "silence" is consent/ acquiescence/ "support" being the default condition.

    Thus the "Government" is seen now primarily as a "corporation" existing first and foremost for the benefit of the "public service".

    While the public itself no longer have a corporation to represent them any amount of bastardry will ensue in the name of public service.

    Alas, all Australians need is some sort of deJure Judicial body that could represent them in some way. It is a novel idea. What would it look like?

    It is the Governor General who bears the greatest responsibility for these abuses of power; while no-one even slightly eyes that office. Protesters gather at the wrong gates. The media eyes the lesser players.

    And Jury nullification? Where and when were you taught it.

  9. THis is why i seldom consult the ABC on political matters. I enjoy their lifestyle stuff and occasionally lisdten to talkback.
    If any factual political content manages to mosey on through the ideological fence erected by the ABC types I hail it as an amazing moment but never assume it will be so.

    Apart from the huge cost to the taxpayer, I don't care any more. The ABC smuggery has left me tons of time to put on my news boots and charge forth into the world of real media online,
    full to the brim of journalists commentators and researchers who know what they're talking about, especially on affairs pertaining to the ME and Obama.

    More time to delve into matters ignored and skewed by the Smuggery. Frightening, but at least accurate.