|Issue No 106||10 August 2001|
Revealed: ABC Censors Industrial Reporting
An internal ABC memo has ordered news reporting staff to temper their coverage of industrial relations in the lead-up to the federal election, ignoring disputes that have no direct consumer impact.
The leaked memo from network editor Mark Henderson, directs reporters to ignore the details and causes of a dispute and focus purely on the impact industrial action has on the public. The memo states:
If we are covering, for example, a dispute in the banking industry, we should focus on whether banks will be closed. That should include details about where and for what period of time.
Details of the dispute, for example rates of pay, are very much secondary and our coverage should reflect that.
If an industrial dispute does not impact on the public, we should be seriously considering why we are covering it.
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson has condemned the policy and is calling on the ABC general manager Jonathon Shier to ensure the national broadcaster continues to report industrial stories fairly.
"This is a direct threat to democracy. The Australian public have an absolute right to be fully informed about industrial disputes and make their own minds up," Robertson says.
"If this direction was to be followed, the ABC would not have covered the waterfront dispute, issues of workers entitlements or many of other disputes which inform the political landscape," Robertson says.
The Labor Council says the policy would also pressure workers - taking action to raise public awareness of an issue - into taking more drastic action that would impact directly on the public.
Robertson says the directive - in the current political climate of a looming federal election - was particularly partisan.
"It is a frightening position for ABC management to take, particularly just ahead of an election in which, according to the PM, industrial relations will take centre stage," Robertson says.
"In restricting reporting of industrial issues, ABC management is forcing workers to fight with one hand tied behind their back and misrepresent the causes of an industrial dispute.
"It is a sad day when issues of basic justice are no longer considered newsworthy. But it's not surprising that in Howard's Australia, Howard's hand-picked ABC Board wants issues of injustice in the workplace to be swept from public view."
Interview: In Exile
Burmese's government in exile's Minister for Justice U Thein Oo talks about a struggle for democracy that has become a test of international solidarity.
Politics: A National Disgrace
Labor's IR spokesman Arch Bevis gives his take on the workers entitlements issue and its mismanagement by the Howard Government.
E-Change: 2.2 The Information Organisation
Peter Lewis and Michael Gadiel look at how network technologies will change the way organizations operate in the Information Age.
Media: The Fine Print
Mark Hebblewhite looks at how the major dailies handled the Tri-Star dispute and finds that the story really does depend on the telling.
Human Rights: A People Besieged
Labor MLC Janelle Saffin, an active supporter of the pro-Democracy movement in Burma, sets out the issues behind the ILO sanctions.
International: Postcard From Brazil
The CFMEU’s Phil Davey reports on a rural movement that puts our National Farmers Federation to shame.
History: Indonesia Calling
They needed no resolutions. Soldiers and workers who did not know one another moved together, the black ban started to reach out across the harbour from the noisy, smoke-filled room.
Solidarity: On the Frontline
Australian trade unionists are providing practical help for the Burmese through projects funded by APHEDA-Union Aid Abroad.
Satire: Skase 'Too Ill' to Fly Home for Burial
Spanish authorities have deemed Christopher Skase too ill to return to Australia for his own funeral.
Review: Living Silence
In these extracts from her new book, Christina Fink goes inside Burma to find a world where military repression is slowly crushing a people.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005