Next ABC chief must be advocate for public broadcasting, says MEAA

Dumped ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie … her term will be remembered for “historically low” funding, redundancies. Image: SBS

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The next managing director of the ABC must be prepared to fight for better funding and independence, and to champion public broadcasting in a hostile political environment, says the union representing the ABC’s editorial staff.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance says the sacking of Michelle Guthrie follows a tumultuous period for the ABC.

MEAA members hope that new leadership, temporarily under David Anderson, could be a circuit breaker for the organisation, says the MEAA.

READ MORE: ‘I am devastated,’ says sacked boss as she considers legal options

The director of MEAA Media, Katelin McInerney, said Guthrie’s two-and-a-half years as managing director would unfortunately be remembered for historically low levels of funding culminating in the loss of $84 million in this year’s budget, hundreds of redundancies, unprecedented political attacks on the ABC’s independence and low staff morale.

“It is no secret the ABC is caught in the pincers – between the need to invest in an ever-changing media landscape, and a decline in real funding to historically low levels,” McInerney said.

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“The next managing director of the ABC will face real challenges, including how to restore the trust and confidence of staff by ending the ‘Hunger Games’ processes, casualisation, and outsourcing which in four years have seen more than 1000 experienced workers leave the organisation,” she said.

“They must have a clear vision for the ABC and be able to articulate the direction they want to take the organisation.

“They must be a vocal public advocate for the ABC, who is prepared to tackle head-on the historically low levels of ABC funding with meaningful engagement with the Federal Government.

“They must be 100% committed to public broadcasting and to fend off any attempts to privatise the ABC either directly or by stealth.

“They must be a champion for quality Australian content and specialist content and a staunch defender of the ABC’s independence and of its editorial staff. This includes refocusing daily journalism away from lifestyle content and ‘clickbait’ and back towards news and current affairs.

“Importantly, the ABC board must also be prepared to back the staff of the ABC and the integrity of the ABC as a respected publicly-owned institution in the face of unrelenting political attacks.

“MEAA will shortly be writing to the incoming MD to seek positive engagement and consultation on the above issues, and hope to involve our members with an improved dialogue with management on the challenges the ABC faces.

“We feel it is time for a new vision and new direction for the ABC to emerge, allowing journalists and content makers to get on with the job of serving audiences with the content they trust.”

The ABC MEAA House Committee asked that external critics of the organisation pause to give the new leadership some time and space, to allow this dialogue to happen in good faith, the MEAA statement said.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Two Timorese journalists named for Balibo Five-Roger East fellowships

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Two Timorese journalists named for Balibo Five-Roger East fellowships

Augustus Dos Reis (left) and Pricilia Xavier … 2018 fellowship winners. Image: MEAA/APHEDA

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Two journalists from Timor-Leste will benefit from the Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship in 2018, an initiative of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA.

They were chosen from four outstanding applications assessed by a selection panel in Australia, the MEAA says in a statement.

The next recipients of funding from the fellowship, which aims to nurture the development of journalism in East Timor are:

Maria Pricilia Fonseca Xavier, a journalist and news broadcaster in Tétum and Portuguese at Timor-Leste Television (TVTL).

Augusto Sarmento Dos Reis, senior sports journalist and online co-ordinator at the Timor Post daily newspaper and diariutimorpost.tl website.

The Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship has been established to honour the memory of the six Australian journalists murdered in East Timor in 1975, and to improve the quality and skill of journalism in East Timor.

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The applications were assessed by a panel of MEAA communications director Mark Phillips; Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA organiser trade union development and education for Timor-Leste and Indonesia, Samantha Bond; senior lecturer in journalism at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Jock Cheetham; and former television journalist and newsreader Mal Walden, who was a colleague of three of the Balibo Five.

Funding for projects
The successful applicants will be provided with funding to assist them with specific journalism projects in Timor. It is anticipated that each will also be offered the opportunity to travel to Australia in 2018 to spend some time observing and working in an Australian newsroom.

MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said all the applications were again of a high quality and representative of the diversity of journalism in East Timor.

“We are well aware that is not easy to work as a journalist in Timor-Leste, and journalists face many hurdles, including a lack of resources and training, and attacks from the government on press freedom,” he said.

“But we are delighted that the successful applicants represent both print/online and broadcast media, and there is a balance between genders.

“Both Pricilia and Augusto are young journalists with impressive track records and a thirst to succeed in their chosen profession.”

Kate Lee, executive director of Union Aid Abroad-Apheda, said: “We are delighted to again be able to partner with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance to support the development of independent journalism in Timor Leste through the Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship and look forward to seeing some great investigative work from Pricilia and Augusto in 2018”

Funding for the Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship has come from MEAA, the Fairfax Media More Than Words workplace giving programme, and private donations.

40th anniversary
The fellowship was established on the 40th anniversary of the murders of the Balibo Five in 1975.

Last year, four journalists successfully applied for funding from the fellowship, while separately the fellowship assisted Timorese journalist Raimundos Oki to spend a week with Fairfax Media in Sydney in September.

The fellowship carries the names of six journalists who were murdered by Indonesian forces in East Timor in 1975.

Five young journalists working for Australia’s Seven and Nine networks – reporter Greg Shackleton, camera operator Gary Cunningham, sound recordist Tony Stewart (all from Seven), reporter Malcolm Rennie and camera operator Brian Peters (both from Nine) – were killed in the village of Balibo after witnessing an incursion by Indonesian soldiers on October 16, 1975. Their killers have never been brought to justice.

Freelance reporter Roger East, a stringer for the ABC and AAP who provided the first confirmed accounts of the killing of the Balibo Five, was executed by Indonesian troops on Dili Wharf on December 8. His body fell into the sea and was never recovered.

A media release from MEAA and APHEDA.

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