To Mark Scott, Editor-in-Chief, ABC. The Australian's editor took responsibility for his paper today. You should observe how it's done..
Mark Scott is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Editor-in-Chief.
Like a newspaper editor responsible for a newspaper that includes a lift-out magazine, cartoons, lifestyle, cooking, travel, news and commentary sections, Mark Scott is responsible as Editor-in-Chief for everything the ABC puts to air, not just news reports and programs.
Here's Mark Scott when he was newly appointed to the job as Managing Director of the ABC on 17 October, 2006 as published in this story in The Australian - it's just over 7 years ago.
New ABC boss vows no more bias
ABC managing director Mark Scott last night admitted the national broadcaster had to respond to claims it was politically biased in its news, current affairs and other programming, by launching new editorial guidelines.
Mr Scott singled out the watchdog program Media Watch as needing an overhaul in his plan to ensure more balance and diversity of opinion on the ABC, long accused of perceived left-wing bias.
Mr Scott said he accepted a July ruling by broadcast watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority that found a Four Corners report on the Tasmanian forest industry by journalist Ticky Fullerton was not impartial. "I can understand how they reached that finding," he said.
As for Media Watch, presently hosted by Monica Attard, Mr Scott said he had "encouraged the director of television (Kim Dalton) to work with the Media Watch team to review their format and content next year to ensure there was more opportunity for debate and discussion around contentious and important issues".
Mr Scott chose the conservative think tank run by ABC critic Gerard Henderson to unveil a tough new editorial policy that subjects all radio and television programs to the same editorial scrutiny as news and current affairs.
He created a new position - director of editorial policies - to report to him in his role as "editor-in-chief of the ABC" to monitor and assess editorial performance across all television and radio programming.
Speaking to The Australian before his speech, Mr Scott said the ABC would "look to see whether, on ourstaff, or among those we recruit as contributors, we have the breadth and diversity of voices to be able todeliver what we want to deliver". [DISCUSS HOW HE WENT - MPS]
Mr Scott, who joined the ABC in July, gave the nod of approval to Barrie Cassidy's Insiders, Lateline host Tony Jones and The 7.30 Report host Kerry O'Brien. He endorsed their "rigorous" style of interviewing.
"And the best politicians know that to be subject to a cross-examination by a Kerry O'Brien or a Tony Jones, by a Virginia Trioli or a Jon Faine, and hold their own, increases their political reputation and support. That's why the best politicians keep going on."
But ABC staff, their union and Labor questioned how the rules could be enforced for drama, comedy and children's shows.
"This is outrageous. It's just another attack upon the ABC and its independence," said Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Stephen Jones. "It's also a little bit demoralising.
"Does it mean that comedians can no longer take pot shots at the Government? Is there some political content in Play School? We are getting to the stage where we are looking for political content and bias in children's programs."
Mr Scott signalled that the ABC newsroom would also be encouraged to cover more populist topics. "Unlike some of the commercial media, we have to serve all of the public, not just those who would come to the ABC for comfort of confirmation," he said.
"I am also concerned that we are not unnecessarily narrow in our news selection, reporting on interests of great interest to the newsroom, but of less interest to our broader community.
"This is a challenge for newsrooms everywhere, but particularly those populated by intelligent, thoughtful and serious-minded journalists, like our newsrooms."
I liked him a lot better back then. Mark Scott sounded like he meant business. What he said was spot on. But the words were empty - Mr Scott simply hasn't delivered. He's been an ineffective leader who seems to think his job is to author supportive Twitter messages and emails for staff. Rather than take responsibility and lead, he's succumbed to the ABC's culture and appears to have given up on being its Editor-in-Chief.
When the ABC broadcast the image of Chris Kenny with his trousers around his ankles in a doctored photograph involving a dog, Mark Scott spoke of the issue as if he was a TV and movie critic, rather than the man responsible for the broadcast.
ABC managing director Mark Scott has expressed his displeasure at The Hamster Decides' sketch pillorying The Australian's columnist Chris Kenny.
In an interview on Melbourne’s ABC774, Mr Scott said he thought The Chaser's sketch depicting the columnist and ABC critic Kenny with a dog was "full-on", "tasteless", "undergraduate” and "personally I didn't like it".
"I can understand Chris Kenny and his family being upset by it (the Chaser sketch) and I'm sorry about that," he said.
Mr Scott noted only one complaint was received within 36 hours of the broadcast. It is believed the remainder of complaints, less than 200, came only after the sketch was highlighted in other media.
Today The Australian has nailed Mark Scott and the effect of his 7 years at the ABC helm. This editorial is very well put together, particularly in its observations about the ingrained incuriosity and reluctance to research and break stories amongst the ABC's journalists and newsrooms.
The wasted opportunity is a tragedy. All that money could have produced so much really insightful good for the nation. Instead a stultifying torpor pervades the ABC, driven by a smug contentment about the moral superiority of their "mission". That results in most ABC news reports containing a leader that quotes a "new study" or press release, followed by the confirmation-bias selected comment of some ABC approved expert.
The Australian has done us all a great service with this editorial. I hope the Abbott Government is listening too.
Time to open up the ABC insiders to outside review
UNDER managing director Mark Scott the ABC has expanded and become less accountable.
It has used extra government funding and favourable allocation of a lucrative government contract to work its way into every corner of the media market, forcing all private media, even struggling digital start-ups, to face a public competitor providing free content.
Commercial news services can even purchase news content from the public broadcaster. As the number of journalists in the private sector shrinks, the ABC expands.
Divisions between print, television, radio and online are becoming blurred. The ABC was established to provide a national radio and (later) television service. Now it pushes taxpayer-funded content online at no direct cost to consumers, just as the private sector -- including, of course, The Australian -- strives to convince customers that content is worthy of purchase.
Our interest is clear, as is our role. But what is the ABC's role? Is it to continually expand its size and reach for no reason other than the unchecked bureaucratic tendency towards empire-building?
Mr Scott brazenly championed his empire and the Labor government was sympathetic. Twice the ABC contested a tender for DFAT's overseas television service, worth more than $200 million over 10 years, and twice the ABC lost to Sky News (which has small corporate links to The Australian).
Yet in a startling decision never convincingly explained, the ABC was given the contract regardless. Still, the Australia Network coverage of the recent bushfires was bettered by global players such as CNN and BBC World.
If we consider whether the ABC is reaching too far, we should also ask whether it is spreading too thin. Instead of asserting his editorial leadership, Mr Scott has been the cheerleader for his staff, extolling their virtues on Twitter. As editor-in-chief, his role is to impose standards rather than merely defend a largely autonomous editorial cohort.
Last week, when Mr Scott described our exclusive story about Barrie Cassidy as an "outrageous beat-up", he showed poor judgment. Slow to admonish transgressors in his own organisation, he prefers to find fault elsewhere. Yet when dubious government processes over Cassidy's election-campaign appointment were revealed (along with apparent ABC co-operation in keeping the arrangement quiet), Mr Scott's knee-jerk reaction was not self-examination but self-defence.
Our modest story was such a beat-up that it led to the intervention of the Arts Minister and Attorney-General, George Brandis, and a wise and gracious resignation from Cassidy.
Everyone will have their own definition of a beat-up, but Mr Scott's is important. For instance, he presumably wouldn't use the term to describe Four Corners' use of footage surreptitiously shot by animal rights activists to inflame emotional claims about Indonesian slaughterhouses. Nor, presumably, would he apply it to the way the national broadcaster fuelled public outrage through extensive television and radio coverage, prompting a reactive government to pre-emptively ban a live-cattle trade crucial to both nations.
On the other hand, Mr Scott obviously decided The Australian's revelations about the AWU affair, based on primary sources, constituted a beat-up the national broadcaster had best avoid. Given the claims about the pre-politics professional life of Julia Gillard have triggered an ongoing police investigation, we would query the reasons for the ABC's apparent aversion.
Perhaps the ABC doesn't get enough practice making editorial judgments because it has such a poor record in breaking stories -- save for those spoon-fed by unions or environmental and animal rights activists. With vast resources and annual public funding of more than $1 billion, the ABC fails to break as many significant stories in a year as this newspaper does in a week.
This should concern Mr Scott, as should the news that even departing former foreign minister and NSW premier Bob Carr has referred to a Greens/Left/ABC/Fairfax point of view.
The ABC should have no political leaning and no discernible view except one of Australian nationalism, open-mindedness, curiosity, plurality and fair-minded debate. As a matter of priority, the Abbott government must review the ABC's reach, role, funding and internal leadership