Jon Faine to fight ABC ruling over on-air interview 'lapse'
- BY:NICK LEYS
- From:The Australian
- February 01, 2013 12:00AM
ABC broadcaster Jon Faine has rejected a management decision to apologise for a heated interview he conducted on-air with a protagonist in the Australian Workers Union slush fund scandal that has dogged Julia Gillard.
In responding to public complaints about the November 23 interview with former 2UE presenter Michael Smith, the ABC ruled that Faine had demonstrated a "lapse in standards" and the matter would be reported to the board, while Faine had been "reminded of his obligation to gather and present news and information content with due impartiality".
The interview included The Age newspaper's editor-at-large, Mark Baker, and was characterised by Faine's hectoring of Smith and his assertion that he "give it his best shot".
But Faine was both defiant and unapologetic yesterday and vowed to fight the decision.
"There are very important issues at stake," he said. "As far as I'm concerned I'm not satisfied with the findings and will pursue the matter further.
Faine has plenty of support from his colleagues, including 7.30 political editor Chris Uhlmann, who described the decision as "absurd" and in a series of Twitter comments publicly backed Faine.
"Jon believes that, based on the publicly available evidence, the Prime Minister did no wrong. To date, the facts support that view," Uhlmann wrote.
"The interviews, which so shamed the ABCs correctness commissars, were robust exchanges between a broadcaster and two journalists," he declared in another. "Jon is one of the jewels of local radio's crown and I am proud that I was once his producer. I await a robust defence of him from management."
If Jon Faine wants to work for the ABC and take taxpayer's money, he'll have to get used to sticking to the ABC's rules. Fairfax radio didn't want Bob Kernohan's story told, I did, I resigned over it. How strongly do you feel Jon?
In accordance with the ABC's complaint handling procedures your concerns have been reviewed by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent from ABC program areas. The role of Audience and Consumer Affairs is to investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC's editorial standards. We have assessed the interviews against the ABC's editorial requirement for impartiality, specifically standard 4.1 of the ABC Code of Practice which states: "Gather and present news and information with due impartiality".
Audience and Consumer Affairs have concluded that the interviews were not conducted in keeping with ABC impartiality requirements. The argumentative style of the interviews by Mr Faine, combined with a pattern of strongly stated personal opinions that at times oversimplified the issues at hand, was not in keeping with the ABC’s rigorous impartiality standards for current affairs content.
ABC Radio apologise for this lapse in standards. This matter has been brought to the attention of ABC Radio management and Jon Faine has been reminded of his obligation to gather and present news and information content with due impartiality. A summary of this finding will be published on the ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs website at: http://about.abc.net.au/talk-to-the-abc/feedback-and-enquiries/upheld-complaints/