More complaints about ABC’s “incestuous” connections

24 Oct

In this article at On Line Opinion titled “A 7.30 Affair,” author Phil Dye has a critical look at the ABC’s 7.30 Report, currently fronted by Leigh Sales.

One of his criticisms focuses on an interview Sales conducted with author Nikki Gemmell last week about her new book. Sales introduced the author by explaining that she’d just published her “long-awaited follow-up to [her previous novel] ‘The Bride Stripped Bare.'” Dye points out that Gemmell is an ex ABC journalist.

Dye writes as follows:

While what women want in bed may be a saucy dinner party topic, it’s not a topic of national interest worthy of the ABC’s flagship current affairs program. Ms Gemmell would definitely fit the content profile of ‘Today Tonight’ or ‘A Current Affair’, but not tax-payer funded television. The Gemmell-ABC connection, while probably innocent, is also troublesome. Relevance aside, an eight-minute book promo on prime-time TV by an ex ABC staffer is worth investigation. It’s not the actuality of the relationship that matters, but the perception. We could easily be forgiven for assuming an incestuous connection.

Dye’s article was published before last Friday. On that morning’s Radio National Life Matters, hosted by Richard Aedy, the entire one hour program was devoted to Nikki Gemmell and her new novel, with callers ringing in to speak to Gemmell and a couple of other guests who were experts in the areas explored in Gemmell’s novel.

On October 6 I posted this piece on Sheep protesting the ABC’s promotion of the book Big Porn Inc:

Between June 15 and October 5 2011, the ABC’s Religion and Ethics Online and the Drum have published eight articles written by anti pornography campaigners and colleagues who share the same perspective on pornography.

Judging from many of the comments on some articles, the views of this collective are regarded as extreme, and pushing right-wing Christian conservative values.

Seven of these articles were written by contributors to Big Porn Inc, a collection of anti pornography essays edited by activists Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray.

In five of the articles reference is made to the soon-to-be-released Big Porn Inc, and three of them are extracts from the book. Clive Hamilton‘s article in Religion and Ethics reads like a book launch speech, and his last two paragraphs enthusiastically promote Big Porn Inc.

Gail Dines, also an author in Big Porn Inc, appears in R&E on September 15 promoting her anti pornography position. Meagan Tyler writes in the Drum on October 5th defending Gail Dines against critics, and promoting the same anti porn position. Tyler has another anti porn piece in the Drum on September 20th.

During this period the ABC has published one, yes that’s one alternative perspective to that put forward by all the above authors. That piece was by academic Alan McKee on September 23rd. McKee addresses many of the criticisms launched at him and his colleagues by some of the above authors.

I submitted an alternative perspective and a response to the Meagan Tyler piece which was not published.

Editor of the ABC’s Religion and Ethics forum, Scott Stephens, is launching the book the ABC has been blatantly promoting in Brisbane next week.

At the editor’s website, the launch of Big Porn Inc is headlined thus: “ABC Editor Scott Stephens to launch Big Porn Inc in Brisbane October 14.”

That the ABC should promote a book that is subsequently launched by one of its employees is bizarre. The ABC is not publishing this book. It isn’t written by ABC employees.

There’s a big difference between noting publications in an author’s biography, and the kind of intense promotional activity immediately prior to a book launch we’re seeing here. There’s a big difference between the ABC interviewing an author about his or her book, and the promotional activity seen here. There’s a lot of cosiness between the book’s editors and the ABC Religion and Ethics editor. None of this is good for a public broadcaster whose mission is to convey as many perspectives as reasonably possible on issues that affect the whole of our society.

I’ve since lodged a complaint with the ABC and Media Watch, both of which I will now update to include Dye’s observations.

While the national broadcaster is quick to expose and exploit “incestuous” connections when uncovered  in the commercial media, does the same standard of scrutiny apply in-house?

3 Responses to “More complaints about ABC’s “incestuous” connections”

  1. paul walter October 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Points reiterated on last night’s Media Watch, with an expose on a quite vile racist attack on refugees driving their Ferraries about town, while the Australian People- God’s Own People- die a slow agonising mass death born of malnutrition, violence, disease and neglect in the gutters outside the Macmansions they once beggared themselves in the acquisition thereof.
    Manifest Destiny, where are you,now?


  2. paul walter October 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Re the MW point in Jennifer’s thread starter, it is true that MW has been banging on against this creeping tendency ever since Stuart Littlemore identified the first timid tendencies nearly twenty years ago.
    A very arrogant current ABC management, methinks.
    On a slightly diferent tack, watching the dumbed down SBS news reminds of one of Mary Kostakidis’ battle to save SBS from following also down this path, after Shaun Brown took over.


  3. Marilyn October 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    And Uhlmann is married to member for Canberra Gai Brodtman so we have a right wing apologist for the right of politics and a right winger married to a silent right winger in the ALP.


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