There were more sad departures from The Australian last week, and the week before. You will not have read much about redundancies and job losses at News Corp this year, save for some infantile gloating from “ideological” enemies on social media.
Source: Chris Kenny, News Corp
Cue the violins: ABC needs to put its trivial troubles into perspective
Why? It is not major news and the focus of those still working is to knuckle down and try to do more with less. Commercial realities cannot be denied, we can only adapt and innovate to deal with them. The confluence of structural, cyclical and pandemic challenges in this year of COVID-19 have presented widespread pain across the industry.
From Buzzfeed to Bauer magazines, from Channel 10 to the Seven Network, and from the Gawler Bunyip to the Sunraysia Daily, the
In a cruel irony, demand for content has never been higher — with so much happening here and abroad, the thirst for information is insatiable. But monetising eyeballs in the digital age is even harder in a recession.
Against this backdrop it is galling to see taxpayer-funded executives and journalists at our public broadcasters use their taxpayer-funded platforms to complain about modest savings — a funding freeze they have had two years to plan for and which amounts to a two per cent cut in real terms. Cue the violins.
Last Wednesday the ABC news website ran the potential loss of 250 ABC jobs as the main story of the day, even though this is from a workforce of more than 4000 and will likely be achieved through voluntary redundancies over three years. The following day Qantas axed 6000 jobs.
The conceit of ABC journalists is hard to stomach at a time like this. Annabel Crabb tweeted about how Australians would have been misled if they had to rely on commercial radio for coronavirus news rather than the ABC; yet it was the ABC and Norman Swan that led the charge on erroneous and catastrophist pandemic predictions that fuelled hysteria.
Likewise Crabb, Leigh Sales and others have enlisted bushfire coverage to justify funding demands. But useful news coverage by the ABC has been constantly interspersed with misleading climate change angles as the public broadcaster has used the summer tragedy to advance an ideological cause.
The ABC is funded to provide a national network to cover news such as the bushfires. Yet they use the fact that they provide that service as a justification to demand more funding — it is a circular and self-obsessed logic.
When you hear some politicians claim the ABC doesn’t care about regional Australia, remember the facts: no media organisation does more to cover the whole country than the ABC. Don’t take my word – here’s the late National Party leader & champion for regional
In a stunning demonstration of the organisation’s disconnect from the mainstream it serves, the ABC has failed to place its own minor budget pressures within the context of a nation (and a world) confronted by pandemic-induced recession. Its own lack of financial constraint is difficult to fathom. Head of ABC news Gaven Morris is paid more than $600,000 and the managing director’s salary tops $1m. Waste and indulgence is everywhere.
Former ABC stalwart Barrie Cassidy — who has tweeted about “ideologically driven funding cuts” — was brought back from retirement for an interview series that was apparently beyond the wit of any of the 4230 people still drawing an annual salary. Likewise, when then part-time presenter Kerry O’Brien wanted to interview Paul Keating it somehow could not be produced within the resources of a communications behemoth with a billion-dollar budget; instead the ABC paid O’Brien’s production company.
The public broadcaster is replete with lifers and people whose spouses, partners and children are employed in the same organisation — and they wonder why diversity is a problem. And still, as we know, a plurality of ideas eludes them.
“The relentless funding cuts are now biting into bone,” wrote The Drum host Julia Baird on Facebook last week. “This will impact our ability to hold the powerful accountable and carve space for voices not heard, stories not told. We are all gutted.” The piety and self-interest are staggering from people who must know what is going on in the real world.
Maybe in some instances they could do more with less. Perhaps a staff of 10 and a salary of close to $250,000 for a host is too high a price to pay for 15 minutes a week of Media Watch, especially when Paul Barry has turned it into a deceptive and ideological rant. The 7.30 team produces only four programs a week.
David Speers has gone from hosting at least 10 hours of high-quality television a week at SkyNews (plus debates and special projects) to a one-hour, weekly Insiders program. He could host 7.30, Q&A and Insiders every week and still not be as busy as he was at SkyNews.
The ABC has given a higher priority to quantity of platforms rather than quality of content. Resources are not their problem but rather their resourcefulness.
We know bureaucracies are self-perpetuating and unremittingly introspective, but the ABC should not be inflicting their angst on audiences. After a week of journalists arguing their own interests, Insiders really lived up to its name on Sunday with three of the four commentators on the ABC payroll, and the Communications Minister Paul Fletcher being grilled about ABC funding.
ABC radio host Patricia Karvelas finished the program with a final bit of special pleading in which she seemed to suggest that trimming ABC funding would damage the nation. “Journalism matters and accountability matters,” Karvelas said. True enough. But why then should the ABC never be accountable?