On World Press Freedom Day, the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) applauds those who champion freedom of expression and support media around the world.
JERAA statement on perceived government intervention at the ABC
The peak body representing Australian journalism educators and researchers is concerned about the removal of an ABC report on corporate taxation policy by chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici, following complaints from the federal government.
The Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) fears this could set a precedent that erodes the editorial independence of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and opens the door for further and wider interference in the organisation.
The ABC has also recently come under scrutiny from some quarters for its handling of hundreds of pages of leaked cabinet papers that were returned after an apparent agreement between the national broadcaster and the federal government.
ABC Media Manager Sally Jackson has denied any pressure from the government.
“Any suggestion the ABC is responding to outside pressure over these stories is incorrect.
They have been subject to the normal ABC editorial processes. The internal review of the stories was begun before any complaints were received by ABC News.”
But JERAA president Matthew Ricketson said it was important the ABC continued to be independent, and not subject to accusations of government censorship.
“If there were problems with Emma Alberici’s stories, why could they not be corrected and reposted, or, why couldn’t alternative analyses be posted?
“It is preferable to add to the store of information in the public domain rather than hide material from public view, thereby preventing readers from making up their own minds about the stories. Such actions also plant perceptions that the ABC has buckled under pressure from government over an issue that is not only before parliament but is hotly contested.”
The ABC’s host of Media Watch, Paul Barry, has called the ABC’s editorial guidelines on analysis and opinion too restrictive, which is something for the ABC to address. He also said that, “the system of editorial quality control on a major story has failed yet again.”
Professor Ricketson noted, “Of course, one effect of the pressure and the noise surrounding the ABC’s decision is that we are not discussing the important issues aired by the original stories”.
Senate Inquiry Report Into the Future of Journalism
The Senate has tabled its committee’s report on the Inquiry into the future of public interest journalism.
Here’s the link: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Future_of_Public_Interest_Journalism/PublicInterestJournalism/Report