ABC tries to remember how to do its job

Caption: Cartoon by Johannes Leak

When my youngest was in his senior years of high school, he would drive into town with me every morning.

Living in rural Tasmania, our choices of radio station cover the gamut from ABC RN to ABC Classical. Before he flicked on the radio every morning, he’d grumble, “What’s it going to be today? Gay marriage, climate change or refugees?”

It’s not surprising therefore to find that the ABC news ratings are plummeting. The ABC likes to boast that it is “Australia’s most trusted news source” but the brutal numbers show that it attracts about half the audience of its competitors. Quote:

Last week ABC News attracted about 660,000 viewers in the mainland capital cities. This compares with about 760,000 viewers a year ago. End of quote.

ABC managers are so alarmed by these dire numbers that they’re having to teach their journalists how to do journalism. Quote:

ABC journalists are being sent back to training in a bid to improve the flagship 7pm news, which is suffering from declining ratings. End of quote.

But ABC management’s solution doesn’t inspire confidence. Quote:

?If we let the 7 o?clock news be a digest of what has happened that day, we will struggle to maintain audiences? End of quote.

On the other hand, you’ll also be doing what news journalism is actually meant to do. Quote:

Improving the storytelling on the news is a key ambition of a ?7 keys for 7pm? strategy document obtained by The Australian. End of quote.

“Improving the storytelling” sounds suspiciously like “spinning the narrative”. Quote:

The ABC sets annual areas of focus for the 7pm news that are adapted by local newsrooms. End of quote.

This is one of the biggest gripes many people have with the ABC. The “areas of focus” for the national broadcaster almost always seem strangely to cover only issues that obsess inner-Sydney hipsters. A farming-focused program like The Country Hour bangs on incessantly about organic farming to the exclusion of almost everything else.

So it may be a sign of hope that the ABC might set its sights beyond the Latte Fence. Quote:

Regional staff, the specialist reporting team and ABC investigations will be called in to contribute news stories, not just the capital city newsroom journalists. End of quote.

But the test will be if that actually makes any difference. When the ABC sacked popular radio host Red Symons and replaced him with a more “diverse” team, viewers abandoned the program in droves. Yet the ABC insists that it needs more diversity.

The ABC is an elitist institution, insulated from account to its audience by a taxpayer-guaranteed billion dollars of funding. As it slides deeper and deeper into the abyss of leftism, fewer and fewer Australians are prepared to put up with its regressive lecturing. ABC management obviously realises this, and are responding by sending their journalists back to school, to learn how to actually do their trade.

The likelihood, though, is that they’ll just be fed more of the same Cultural Marxist pap that they already believe.