Citizen Journalism

Archive for the ‘ABC’ Category

Brandis free speech fudge: @MediaActive reviews the @albericie interview

In ABC, Brandis Remember This Freedom, Freedom of the Press, Journalism, Media Reform, MSM, Peter Clarke on May 11, 2013 at 5:11 PM


ABC Lateline Interview May 7, 2013

By Peter Clarke

May 11, 2013

Media regulation reform was never going to be easy in Australia. As it turned out, the legislation proposed by the Labor government foundered midst roiling misinformation and hyperbolic claims of draconian state intrusion into media freedoms.

It was also not helped by the ham-fisted presentation, timing and advocacy by the minister responsible for its passage through the parliament, Senator Stephen Conroy.

The irony of a news media reporting with dubious accuracy and fairness on the details of both the Finklestein Independent Media Inquiry and The Convergence Review processes and outcomes was lost on most but not all citizens and informed observers.

Professor Matthew Ricketson of Canberra University, who assisted Finklestein during the Inquiry, vented some of his frustration at the overall quality, orientation and accuracy of the media coverage and analysis around the process and ideas for reform explored by the Finklestein inquiry in an address to the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne.

Ricketson suggested in that speech that the best case study for the need for media reform in Australia was the news media reporting of the Inquiry itself: “What they have done in my view is to under-report a lot of what was presented to the Independent Media Inquiry late last year and to either mis-report the Inquiry’s findings or to ignore large parts of the report altogether”.

Those of us who have followed the Finklestein Inquiry, read the diverse submissions, the final report and the surrounding, often borderline hysterical, media coverage cannot help but have some sympathy for Ricketson’s view even allowing for his immersion in the inquiry process and his detailed contributions to its findings.

Perhaps the overall news media antipathy to the Inquiry itself and its recommendations were encapsulated best by the somewhat arch comments from the CEO of Fairfax, Greg Hywood, appearing in person before the Finklestein Inquiry. He asked in effect, “What’s the problem? Why are we here?”

He was not alone in that view. The coverage and advocacy journalism of the News Limited media was strident and tipping into polemical over-kill especially via its CEO Kim Williams. Sober analysis and balanced coverage were but a pipe dream.

In the UK, the equivalent struggle around the Leveson Inquiry’s findings and recommendations continue. There, the hacking scandals at the News of the World and elsewhere drove the sentiment, rhetoric and forensic character of that inquiry. Here in Australia, Finklestein was oriented more towards the transformations of the digital revolution albeit clearly within the ripple effect of the hacking scandals in the UK and Leveson.

Before Finklestein started his hearings, The Convergence Review was already doing its work and had issued an interim report. Finklestein’s eventual findings and recommendations were effectively folded into their processes as the government (at a snail’s pace) forged its legislation aimed at effecting some media regulation reform across a range of pressing issues including the growing anomaly of regulating the printed news media in one (to many deeply unsatisfactory) way compared to the regulation of analogue and digital broadcasting and online digital media.

Now, in the “phony war” phase of the lead up to a federal election in September 2013, the failure of that legislation and the apparent junking of much of the extensive research and analytical work by Finklestein and The Convergence Review are, of course, inevitably part of a campaign of intense political point scoring. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Sales dropped the ball on Abbott

In ABC, Federal Election, Journalism, Peter Clarke on April 25, 2013 at 3:53 PM

By Peter Clarke,

April 25, 2013

Late last year, Leigh Sales interviewed Tony Abbott live on the 730 Report. Sales was sharp and persistent, Abbott poorly prepared and struggling. Sales beat claims of bias and won a coveted Walkley Award for TV interviewing.

Naturally viewers were relishing the prospect of a return bout, and Sales and the program promoted the interview on social media. It now seems that if Abbott agrees to be interviewed on an ABC current affairs program it is a ‘get’. Because of the history and the ongoing tensions between the office of the opposition leader and the ABC, there is an additional expectation from the audience.

Unlike Sales’ interviews with Prime Minister Gillard, there is no history between Sales and Abbott around key policy areas or even how they engage in these set-piece, contested, political interviews. Rather, each interview appears to be built from the ground up, as if it was the first one. Their rarity causes a fundamental problem in the continuity of enquiry.

I first reviewed Sales’ performance in a piece about her interview with Gillard after she stared down Rudd to retain her leadership, in which I was quite critical of both participants. I have long been an admirer of Sales, and cite her as one of the best we have.

Or I used to.

Something happened in that Gillard interview which diminished the natural and hard-won interviewing skills Sales had clearly demonstrated. She gleaned very little useful insight or information for citizens. Last night’s interview with Abbott was calmer and smoother than the Gillard one or Sales’ last interview with Abbott, but, again, very little content of real value emerged. 

In fact, the most troubling aspect of the interview last night was that Sales did not appear to be listening acutely enough to Abbott’s answers. Alongside all the integrated skills and techniques in a top interviewer’s toolkit, LISTENING remains the key attribute. Without it, the ‘hollow dance’ becomes even more superficial.

This Abbott interview was roughly the same duration as the Gillard one – just over thirteen minutes. It was (as was the Gillard interview) pre-recorded. And Abbott was not in the studio with Sales. Here is a brief analysis of the interview transcript. 

In her set-up, Sales frames the interview as an enquiry into the Coalition’s economic plan, stating that “your vote will boil down” to your judgement on how well the Labor government handled the Global Financial Crisis and associated spending. Her opening remarks to Abbott followed that line until she ask the gift (for Abbott) question: Are you asking the public to elect you on blind faith?

In my article on Sales’ Gillard interview, I suggested that the interview never recovered from asking a broad diffuse and opinionated first question. Sales’ opening gambit with Gillard:

After recent events, aren’t Australians well within their rights to conclude that the Gillard Government is a dysfunctional mess that deserves to be consigned to opposition as soon as possible?

Notice the similarity in form and approach? Gillard walked through the giant gap. So did Abbott.

Sales could have chosen, as her set-up promised, a specific, targeted first question around economic policy to stop Abbott being able to rely on the generalised, abstract discourse politicians favour to avoid the question and stay on message. But Sales went for the flourish again, and it let her down, again. Read the rest of this entry »

Media reform on life-support

In ABC, Fifth Estate, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Journalism, Media Reform on April 13, 2013 at 2:05 PM

By Kevin Rennie

April 13, 2013

The near capacity crowd at the Centre for Advanced Journalism’s session The Post-Mortem on Journalism Reform: What Happens Now? belied the conventional wisdom that media reform in Australia is dead (Details and the live blog are here). The venue was the aptly named Elisabeth Murdoch theatre at Melbourne University. But let’s not dwell on her infamous son despite the presence of his large press prints all over the issues discussed.

Media reform panel
The following is a personal reflection on some of the matters raised.

Convergence and concentration: Whither/wither media reform?

Panel members left little doubt that there is no chance for major reforms to legislation or self-regulation in the near future.

Julian Disney, Chair of the Australian Press Council, was the most optimistic. He would like to get his ambitious agenda revitalized: broadening Council membership to all the so-called converging media: print, broadcast and online; establishing community input; enhancing complaints procedures; defining journalistic ethics, standards and codes of practice; gaining the ability to initiate complaints.

On the issue of media concentration there was no consensus. Media Watch presenter, Jonathan Holmes, spelled out the financial reality – no one is going to buy a stand-alone daily newspaper. He hopes that here may be greater diversity in the medium term through the emergence of independent online news sites with real penetration.

There is little or no precedent for this in Australia at this stage. Players such as Crikey, Global Mail and New Matilda resemble feature magazines with no meaningful news gathering capacity. Perhaps he has the soon-to-be-launched Guardian Australia in mind. It will be a different voice but is hardly a truly new player.

Healthy bias?

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the discussion concerned political bias in the mainstream media. The panel consensus, led by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, was that bias is okay so long as we get a broader range of opinions by having more media outlets and owners.

This publisher pluralism depends on the problematic proliferation of real online alternatives mentioned above. However, the old joke still fits: Freedom of the press is owning one. If new online organisations are controlled by the big end of town, the traditional media hegemony will continue, based on the shared worldview of the usual suspects. It may just mean more opportunities for the IPA turks and other think tankers to strut their neo-liberal stuff.

Projecting public interest

Controlling the excesses of partiality, the audience was told, would only come through monitoring instances where bias leads to distortion of facts (lies for instance) or unbalanced coverage (more of jolly old Lord Whatshisname the climate scientist). The Press Council and media monitors like Media Watch are virtually powerless to rein in political bias per se.

Standards that might be applied in this regard include: distinguishing between news and views; checking sources; contacting the key people before publication; fact checking. The kind of vilification that some News Limited papers poured on Senator Stephen Conroy recently seems beyond the reach of any code or regulations. Even the court of public opinion is unlikely to find in favour of politicians or political parties who seem to be regarded as unfair game.

Just as worrying was the lack of redress for individuals who have been treated unfairly by the media. Julian Disney saw it as a real problem but Jonathan Holmes was not as concerned as he believes it rarely happens. Great to hear that people’s privacy is being respected at last. The shameless commercial current affairs shows must have abandoned the foot in the door and the camera at the bathroom window.

Social media campaigns were suggested as one of the few ways to call out the worst cases. It is the hands of the public. Julian offered the prospect of community roundtables and a Press Council community advisory group. Fine in themselves but hardly a knockout blow to gutter journalism.

He believes that netizens will have to provide the teeth and the quality research if the self-regulator is to do its job. Perhaps we should follow his suggestion that concerned citizens coordinate complaints to the Council. Perhaps the Public Interest Advocate will be a citizen appointment. Hands up anyone? Some philanthropist is bound to foot the bill to defend all the libel suits and legal maneuvers to reveal confidential sources. Read the rest of this entry »

@albericie debates @chriskkenny on media self regulation reform: And the winner is?

In ABC, Fairfax, Journalism, Margo Kingston, Media Reform, MSM on March 17, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Artist Martin Davies.

Artist Martin Davies.

Read the rest of this entry »

@ABCthedrum rat-a-tat talk forgets substance

In ABC, Jim Parker, Journalism, Media Reform on March 14, 2013 at 7:22 PM
Chart by Andrew Kos - www.abcgonetohell.net

Chart by Andrew Kos – http://www.abcgonetohell.net

By Jim Parker
March 14, 2013
Source: The Failed Estate

Here is the Mr Denmore (Jim Parker) post referred to above, republished with permission.


Our public broadcaster is our most trusted source of news. So why does it spend so much time and money chasing cheap and predictable opinions from a small group of people who have plenty of other places to bang their tin drums?

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation received a net $840 million in revenue from the federal government last year. Its real funding has been cut 23% since the mid-1980s.

Aware of changing technology and of being required to do more and more with less and less, the broadcaster in its annual report talks about how audiences are expecting to access content wherever they are and across multiple platforms.

The annual report shows that by output, 51% of revenue from the federal government went to television, 27% to radio, 10% to digital TV transmission, 9% to analog transmission, 2% to online media and 1% to digital radio transmission.

The flagship is the still relatively bright and shiny ABC News 24, a network that according to the national broadcaster “reached” 13.1% of the metropolitan population last year. I am not sure how many of those being “reached” actually watched it, but that seems to me a fairly low figure for an institution that proudly brands itself as Australia’s only 24-hour TV news channel.

Apart from audience, it is arguable how much of the news channel features actual, you know, ‘news’. Highlighted programs include ‘The Drum’ – an opinion show on the issues of the day featuring “an ever changing panel drawn from all walks of life”. Read the rest of this entry »

Are journos about truth or reporting what they say?

In ABC, John Faine Affair, Journalism, MSM, NBN, Peter Clarke on March 11, 2013 at 7:33 PM
Malcolm Turnbull - Surrealist Artist Installation Staged At Bondi Beach

Malcolm Turnbull – Surrealist Artist Installation Staged At Bondi Beach

By Peter Clarke
March 11, 2013

Margo: My first journalism job was at The Courier Mail. One day I wrote a story about a disagreement in the Queensland National Liberal Coalition Cabinet about condom vending machines. My first paragraph quoted the then health minister  Mike Ahern. My second said that his statement contradicted another minister, Lyne Powell. The chief sub editor, Graham Earle, called me over to demand an explanation for my story. ‘What is this?” he asked. ‘The truth,’ I replied. ‘Your job is not to write the truth, your job is to write what people say.”

I was devastated.

I was relieved when Fairfax’s the Times on Sunday, successor to the National Times, offered me a job as its Queensland reporter. Truth was what counted for Fairfax then. I felt honoured to work for them

Still, I encountered variations on the theme there too, particularly when I covered the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal re-hearings into Alan Bond’s bribe to Sir Joh to pay him $400,000 to settle a defamation claim in exchange for, well, you know, the ability to do business in Queensland.

I was steeped in the first hearing, and during the second reported when the evidence diverged from the first hearing. Again, I was told, your job is to write what people say. I fought that view, and won.

So this is a recurring theme in journalism.

In Canberra I was aggressive in press conferences, and back in Sydney I was aggressive too. I remember one occasion when I was writing stories on how it was imperative for developer donations to be disclosed in NSW. I went to a Bob Carr press conference on the Bali Bombings, where I questioned the Premier on the matter, to be met with false allegations that I had condoned the bombings.

The then news editor, Mark Coulton, complained to the editor of smh.com.au, for whom I worked, that it was unacceptable to press the Premier so hard, to be so ‘aggressive’. So I posted the audio and asked for comment. The majority of readers backed me.

Is our job to report what people say or to search for the truth?  And if it is the former, does journalism serve a useful purpose in our democracy?

*

Examining over the last few weeks the intricacies of the Jon Faine affair, has been fascinating. I have encountered so many differing perceptions, views, narratives, claims, assertions around the original Faine broadcast interviews and the unruly notions of ‘factual’, ‘balance’, ‘impartial’, ‘accuracy’, ‘argumentative’ and, yes, the biggie, TRUTH.

Then, there have also been claimed ‘bias breach’ and process attributes such as ‘consistent’ and ‘proportionate’.

Most of these encounters, but not all, have been with news media professionals or the executives within the ABC whose job it is to hold the line and keep the ‘fair and consistent process’ alive and functioning no matter the manifest anomalies.

What has become very clear to me in researching and discussing this still unfolding story around Faine is that there are two realms from which to observe and appraise it: inside the ABC, where apparently process and its survival is everything, and outside the ABC where the view can be entirely different. Read the rest of this entry »

Conroy demands ABC transparency after second pro-Coalition slap down of strong journalism

In ABC, John Faine Affair, NBN, Peter Clarke on March 8, 2013 at 1:35 PM
Nick Ross - ABC Technology & Games Editor

Nick Ross – ABC Technology & Games Editor

By Peter Clarke
March 7, 2013

The Federal Communications Minister, Victorian Senator, Stephen Conroy, has accused the ABC of  a ‘lack of transparency and fairness’ over its reported disciplining of its online technology writer Nick Ross, who has written extensively about the NBN.

The minister’s allegations, made to Jon Faine on Melbourne ABC radio this morning, echo much of the commentary around the ABC’s recent negative finding of ‘bias. against Faine himself:

‘Now this cannot go on. These internal procedures of the ABC have to be more open and more transparent. Journalists cannot work on a basis that they’re going to be bullied and intimidated, and have complaints lodged against them in a process that is not transparent and open.’

Senator Conroy also accused his opposition counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, of ‘constantly attacking and trying to bully some of your journalists’.

Conroy was responding to a report in today’s Australian Media section. It stated that in relation to NBN stories, an ABC spokeswoman said Ross had ‘been reminded of the need to ensure that his work in this area is in keeping with ABC policies’.

That report quoted from an opinion piece in the same edition of the newspaper by Kevin Morgan under the headline: ABC’s man leaves objectivity on the cutting-room floor to spruik NBN.

Morgan is an ‘independent telecom consultant’ and served on Kim Beazley’s ministerial committee on telecom reform.

Nick Ross, tweeting under @ABCTech has denied being reprimanded or disciplined but has so far been silent when approached to clarify the actual circumstances.

Ross did tweet that he was left ‘literally speechless’ by the Kevin Morgan opinion piece.

The ABC’s technology writer was further quoted via the twitter account @774Melbourne, as denying supporting one side or the other, ‘This is an 11,000 word article.. people have to make up their own minds on this.’

Ross was emphasising that this most recent of his articles, referred to by Morgan, is a detailed analysis piece.

The ABC now has two recent examples of internal “disciplining” of their own journalists for alleged breaches of their own Editorial Guidelines.

Jon Faine was found to have been guilty of a breach by the ABC’s own internal Audience and Consumer Affairs unit after complaints following his robust interviews with former Sydney shock-jock, Michael Smith, and The Age journalist, Mark Baker.

Faine very pointedly challenged Smith to provide facts to justify his ongoing campaign against Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, around her involvement in the AWU slush fund affair.

The ABC has resolutely refused all requests to provide detailed reasons for that decision beyond a bald statement of the negative finding.

The Australian editorially, has been consistently critical of the NBN. There have long been public tensions with the ABC.

News Corporation boss, Rupert Murdoch, has long been a proponent of diminishing or ceasing the operations of public news organisations such as the ABC and the BBC.

Read the rest of this entry »

Transcript – 774 ABC Melbourne, Mornings, Friday, 8 March 2013 08:35 AM

In ABC, John Faine Affair, NBN, Telecommunications on March 6, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Audio of Jon Faine – Stephen Conroy Interview

[audio http://blogs.abc.net.au/files/hectic-half-hour-8-3-13.mp3]

JON FAINE:
We shall turn or attention to state politics in a moment or two, but first on the federal sphere, is it true that there is now a push within the Labor Party to replace Julia Gillard and look for a Denis Napthine style option? Stephen Conroy is the Minister for Broadband Communications, the Digital Economy, Digital Productivity – this is the longest title anyone’s every had surely, and leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator Conroy good morning to you.

STEPHEN CONROY:
Yes it is a very long title. Good morning Jon.

JON FAINE:
We’ll come to the NBN and its problems in a moment, where you’re being accused of pork-barrelling, but is it true the Labor Party are looking at Simon Crean as a Denis Napthine option to replace Julia Gillard before the federal election?

STEPHEN CONROY: No.

JON FAINE:
My information is that that’s now being considered as an alternative to a Kevin Rudd push which would be electorally toxic.
STEPHEN CONROY:
Julia Gillard overwhelmingly won a vote last year for the leadership…

JON FAINE:
Long time ago now.

STEPHEN CONROY:
She retains the majority support of the Parliamentary Labor Party, and she will take us to the next election. There’s lots of stories but bottom line is, the Prime Minister has the overwhelming support of the caucus.

JON FAINE:
In the last 24 hours, since the change in leadership in Victora, it’s been put to me by figures involved in the Labor Party that this may be an option as well for resolving the predicament you find yourselves in. And Kevin Rudd, unacceptable, that would make a mockery of your procedures and processes, and Simon Crean emerges as the Denis Napthine.

STEPHEN CONROY:
Look Simon’s doing a great job travelling the country, talking about the benefits of Labor’s policies, explaining them to people in regional and rural Australia, championing the National Broadband Network, and is doing a fantastic job. But, Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister, has the overwhelming majority of caucus supporting her. And this is just further distraction to getting on with – explaining, demonstrating, and ensuring that our policies are fully understood out there in the broader community. I mean we are focused on reforming the education system, we’re focused on introducing a National Disability Insurance Scheme, and continuing the roll out of the National Broadband Network.

JON FAINE:
And yet the opinion polls show, and they’re trending in a very awkward direction, they show that none of that is getting through. And I put it to you again, Kevin Rudd, absolutely electorally unacceptable as well as internally toxic, Simon Crean the Napthine equivalent.

STEPHEN CONROY:
Look, Simon, as I said, is doing a great job. But Julia Gillard has the support of the overwhelming majority of the Parliamentary caucus. And what all of the caucus members need to focus on – is if we keep talking about ourselves, if we keep just having conversations about what’s going on in the Labor Party, we will get a response in the polls that goes down. People are not interested in hearing about the ins and outs in the Labor Party, they’re interested in hearing about how we’re going to reform the education system so that every child gets a better education; about how we’re going to ensure that one of the segments of society, families with disabled children and family members need more support; and the National Broadband Network which will open up opportunities for small business, open up opportunities…

JON FAINE:
Speaking of the Broadband Network, you’re accused of pork-barrelling with the roll out of the Broadband Network, and yet again we’re seeing western Sydney getting a disproportionate share of not just the NBN, but all infrastructure promises because of its electoral sensitivity.

STEPHEN CONROY:

Look this claim about the NBN and pork-barrelling Labor seats has been debated and disproved. But let me really precise about this, the ACCC, an independent statutory authority, intervened in the process of building the NBN. They said, following lobbying from telecommunications companies, that there will be what we call 121 points of interconnect, or POIs in the jargon. And they ticked the, you know, physical sites of these points of interconnect, and said you will start building from here. And if you overlay the map of the roll out of the NBN, it pretty much follows the instructions from the ACCC. And the ACCC are an independent statutory authority, so suggestions that there’s one electorate favoured over another are absurd.

I did want to raise one issue, John, which is starting to concern me, and I know a number of listeners, particularly to the ABC – there now seems to be a policy of trying to intimidate ABC personnel. Malcolm Turnbull is constantly attacking and trying to bully some of your journalists. And today I read in The Australian, and I know you shouldn’t always believe everything you read in The Australian, but a very disturbing thing where another journalist on the ABC staff has been internally disciplined because they’re not prepared to just accept every policy pronouncement, or claim that’s made publicly.

Now this cannot go on. These internal procedures of the ABC have to be more open and more transparent. Journalists cannot work on a basis that they’re going to be bullied and intimidated, and have complaints lodged against them in a process that is not transparent and open. This is the second…

JON FAINE:
Well now by way of background, the ABC has disciplined one of its editors, who – a man called Nick Ross who edits a forum on the ABC’s online publications, who has been critical of the Coalition. Mr Ross has been critical of the Coalition’s broadband policy, and supportive of yours. And it’s been determined by the ABC internal complaints process that his reporting has not been even-handed.

STEPHEN CONROY:

Well what – I don’t agree with all of Nick Ross’s findings, he’s not someone I’ve ever met expect for I think at press conference. I don’t agree with everything that Nick Ross writes in his columns. But what he’s been prepared to do is compare policies, now that is the job of journalists. To be prepared…

JON FAINE:
No, he’s been accused of being part of your fan club.

STEPHEN CONROY:

No he’s been prepared to compare the Labor Government’s NBN policy, and Malcolm Turnbull’s pretend NBN policy. And he’s gone to great lengths to compare all of the claims backwards and forwards, he’s been critical of me plenty of times in the past. In fact he used to be very critical to my face at press conferences. But what you see here is he’s engaged in getting the facts together, demonstrating that the claims – just by having the facts, demonstrating that the claims that Malcolm Turnbull makes about his policies, are not – don’t stand up to scrutiny. And for this he’s attacked by The Australian, he’s vilified in The Australian today, and a campaign, through a process that is non-transparent, doesn’t give people inside the ABC a fair go.

JON FAINE:
Well you’re the Minister for the ABC, if you think the process is not transparent and unfair, why don’t you do something about it?

STEPHEN CONROY:

Well I don’t run the ABC, it’s got a board, it’s got an independent charter, and it’s got a managing director. But I think it’s time to call out, where you’ve got journalists inside the ABC are being disciplined in a process that does not – does not remotely give fair justice to the journalists involved. This is just an outrageous process.

JON FAINE:
I have to return to state politics in a moment, but just one final question Senator Conroy, and we’ll see if either the ABC management or others want to comment on that, we’ll see if Mr Ross wants to comment too. But you’re a key factional warlord in Victoria for the right.

STEPHEN CONROY: [Laughs]

JON FAINE:
Who are you going to install in Gellibrand to replace Nicola Roxon?

STEPHEN CONROY:
Well I expect that the party will open its nominations in the near future. I’m sure, given it’s a very traditionally safe Labor seat, there’ll be a lot of interest, and there’ll be many nominations, and the rank and file members, as they do in most occasions in the Victorian branch of the Labor Party, get an opportunity to vote.

JON FAINE:
Yeah that’s the theory, but the practice is that you will choose who you want to install. Who have you got your eye on? Why not just tell us?

STEPHEN CONROY:
The rank and file members of the Labor Party will get nominations, and they will get an opportunity to vote on who they think will be the best representative for Gellibrand. We’ve been extraordinarily lucky in the last 20 years, we’ve had treasurers like Ralph Willis, we’ve had health ministers, and attorney-generals like Nicola Roxon. We have been very very lucky in Gellibrand to have some high quality candidates. I’m expecting a whole range of high quality people will put their hand up as well.

JON FAINE:
Are you going to offer a parachute to Senator David Feeney who’s been put into an unwinnable position on the Senate ticket in Victoria? One of those who was instrumental in the removal of Kevin Rudd.

STEPHEN CONROY:
Look, the third position in the Senate is not unwinnable, it’s challenging. David Feeney won it last time, and I’m confident David can win it again.

JON FAINE:
You’re going to leave him on the Senate ticket, or are you going to move him Gellibrand?

STEPHEN CONROY:
We’ll look for Gellibrand nomination to open, but I think David won against the odds the third Senate posi last time, and I’m confident David will be able to win from there again.

JON FAINE:
Thank you. we’ll read between the lines, and undoubtedly we’ll get the chance to speak again soon. Thank you for your time.

STEPHEN CONROY: Thanks Jon.

JON FAINE:
Senator Stephen Conroy, Victorian Labor Senator, and the Minister for the Broadband Communication, and Digital Economy portfolio in the Gillard Government.

@MediaActive interviews @JonaHolmesMW on #Faine

In John Faine Affair, Peter Clarke on March 6, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Jonathan Holmes - Mediawatch

Jonathan Holmes – Mediawatch

By Peter Clarke
March 6, 2013

If you have been following the Jon Faine ‘bias’ affair you will know that ABC Television’s Media Watch covered the Faine controversy on 4 February – almost the only ABC coverage of the finding and resultant strong dissent by Faine and several leading ABC current affairs journalists. (Faine archive)

In that edition, the presenter, Jonathan Holmes, made it clear that, with some caveats, he supported the negative finding against Faine by the ABC’s blandly titled Audience and Consumer Affairs Department.

Within the tight time constraints of that fourteen minute program, he made his reasons reasonably plain.

While writing the previous articles on this affair, I was able to communicate with Jonathan Holmes via email and Twitter to explore and clarify his views on the issue itself and the investigative and assessment processes around the finding.

He agreed to answer some questions via email on the record.

Holmes’ perspectives and analyses are very useful coming from a journalist of his long experience and, now, as the most established presenter of Media Watch on ABC Television. He took up that role in 2008.

He started in journalism in 1971 at the BBC and went on to Executive Produce the ABC’s Four Corners, Foreign Correspondent and The 7.30 Report. Later he went back in the field as a foreign corespondent for the ABC in Washington and as a reporter for Four Corners.

His report for Foreign Correspondent on the Balibo Five won a Logie in 1998 and his earlier film on the Hoddle Street massacre was also an award winner.

These answers from Jonathan Holmes put more flesh on the bones of his original Media Watch script.


1. On 27 February, in a tweet reply to one of my tweets you said:

Would you expand on what you mean by “woolly ABC Ed pols”? Are those “Ed pols” flawed to the extent they need reform in your view?

Do you mean the authentic application of these “Ed pols” by the ABC itself or by ACMA is intrinsically compromised by that “woolliness?

The current ABC Editorial Policies were issued in April 2011.  They were drawn up by the then Director of Editorial Policies, Paul Chadwick (who has since left the ABC).  Chadwick reduced the former Editorial Policies, which had accumulated over half a century and ran to a substantial booklet well over 100 pages in length, to a much shorter document encapsulating various Principles and Standards.

In addition, Chadwick issued (with the imprimatur of the MD) various Guidance Notes to expand on the much shorter Ed Pols – though none which are of much relevance to this particular matter. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy to face #Faine ‘Star Chamber’: @Colvinius

In ABC, John Faine Affair, MSM, Peter Clarke on February 27, 2013 at 8:25 PM

17TLUfN

By Peter Clarke
February 27th, 2013

EXCLUSIVE

Last night, I was watching 730 on ABC Television. As we can now, I also had my iPad fired up to follow the #abc730 hashtag as the program went to air.

With the cryptic words of the recent Jon Faine negative finding from the ABC’s Audience and Consumer Affairs unit still buzzing on my frontal lobes, I was rather amazed to see an interviewer, Leigh Sales, whom I generally admire for the brevity and forensic character of her interview questions, appear to become somebody else.

Bob Brown was the interviewee on a link. Clashes between Japanese whaling and re-fuelling vessels and Sea Shepherd boats in the Southern Ocean was the central topic.

As I remember, Sales in an interview last year with now Greens leader, Christine Milne, exhibited a similar “Mr Hyde” transformation: not listening, hectoring, seeming to have a single line she wished to pursue at all odds. Not forensic, revealing nor at all clever. Except if she was “under instructions” to “do” Brown.

It was not a pretty sight from a frontline journalistic interviewer.

Of course Brown’s claims and assertions needed plenty of testing. He, as a contrarian, in the scheme of things, usually has to bat off quite egregious questions to bring the audience back to some logic and his line of argument.

That is what he did last night. He was able to sidestep Sales’ technique with ease.

The key words from the Faine finding flew through my mind:

“argumentative”? – check

“over-simplification”? – check

Sales’ cringe-worthy use of a simplistic analogy to equate breaking windows on illegally parked cars in her neighborhood with the Sea Shepherd’s activities in the whale sanctuary and serious questions of international law were clearly “over-simplification”.

“strongly-stated personal opinion”? – check

“due impartiality”? – well this is the clincher, catch-all phrase replete with ambiguity and deeply dependent on subjective responses on the part of citizen consumers and potential complainants.

I tweeted a brief critique of the interview. Others on the #abc730 hashtag were more pungent and clearly did not perceive “due impartiality” in Sales from their perspective.

Let me be clear. I don’t believe the Sales-Brown interview last night warrants a complaint for “bias” or lack of “impartiality” on Sales’ part. A critique of her approach and professional technique? Yes. By any measure, the outcome of that interview for us citizens was a very thin gruel.

That after all is the only real reason for major broadcast, “set piece”, accountability interviews. To reveal “factual” information, test claims and create coherence as optimally as possible in the (always) brief time allocated.

Showing off, digging in journalistic spurs for the sake of it are superfluous to the task. And almost inevitably counter-productive as last night again demonstrated.

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