June 02, 2003


ABC boss of news and current affairs Max Uechtritz in The Age last Friday:

The senator seems to think the media's duty in time of war is to fall meekly into line with the government of the day.

Pro-ABC academic Martin Hirst in the letters pages of The Australian last Friday:

The Senator seems to think the media's duty in time of war is to fall meekly into line with the Government.


The situation on the ground in Iraq was very fluid and many things were said by reporters and commentators that later proved false.


The situation on the ground in Iraq was very fluid and many things were said by reporters that later proved false.

Who was the copyist, and who was the originator? Is the ABC independent, or is some Higher Power supplying its talking points? Senator Richard Alston has noted these similarities and would appreciate an answer. So would we all.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 2, 2003 01:10 PM

Tim - I order you to cease and desist. It is NOT "My ABC" so please stop telling me that it is! I want my tax money back and the ABC sold off. I don't want its bias corrected or counterbalanced. The ABC would be just as horrific abomination in a free and democractic capitalist country if it was right wing, centrist or even more left wing than it currently is

The time and place for a taxpayer funded broadcaster in Australia ceased to exist many decades ago. Satellite, cable and additional terrestrial licences ensure that coverage is spread far and wide by the market rather than by the dead hand of government. In fact without the "crowding out effect" of the ABC more commercial ventures would establish and thrive in the smaller markets the ABC used to claim it supported. If anyone wants to pick the fight, I am happy to give them the full run-down on how this would work.

In the meantime I urge you to call the damn thing "Not My ABC" or "Not Your ABC" or simply Australia's Biased Communists. Anything but "My ABC" or "Your ABC"!

Posted by: Driver at June 2, 2003 at 02:43 PM

fair enough. Its either plagarism or
Martin Hirst is writing copy for Max. Its Media Watch territory.

Bigger issues are raised by the Minister than this. For example, the role of commentary in journalism; what model of journalism the current affairs programs on the ABC should adopt given its charter; and what is the role of the ABC as a public broadcaster in our public life given that the Howard Government is not planning to privatise the ABC.

As you know I'm no friend of the Howard Government; but I acknowledge that Alston raises issues that are more serious than plagarism.

I reckon they should be addressed not glossed over with a quick quip.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at June 2, 2003 at 02:48 PM

Bet you $20 this isn't mentioned by Media Watch, Gary.

Posted by: tim at June 2, 2003 at 05:11 PM

Gary, is it a matter of a `model' of journalism when a) on reportage it is first and foremost accurate stating of facts.
b) in current affairs, analysis and conclusions follow evidence?
Until the 1980's, even matriculation students would fail history if they produced essays treating facts and other evidence does, and fare no better on analysis and conclusions.
Then add in questions as thinly disguised diatribe, and, one believes, we have a summation of some quite basic reasons why ABC news and current affairs is slipshod - and that is before factoring in bias.
Perhaps it would not be such a problem if it were a company but it is not. The injury is contained in the nasty irony, as Driver points out ,`it is not my ABC', yet one has no choice but to support it - taxation. One equally agrees with Driver, on markets and proliferation of services on that basis.

Deregulation of braodcasting in Australia altogether, inclusive of ending that nonsense, licences, might go a long way also to bringing on a greater range of services than is the case. Let open market entry and exit decide.

Hear, Hear, Driver.

Posted by: d at June 2, 2003 at 06:18 PM

We shall see this evening.

Posted by: Steve Edwards at June 2, 2003 at 07:23 PM

Which way is your money going, Steve?

Posted by: tim at June 2, 2003 at 07:50 PM