The ABC chose the month it is celebrating its 90th birthday to gut staff in its acclaimed archives division. The plan is to abolish 75 jobs, 58 permanent positions, and 17 contractors and replace some with content navigators tasked with helping harried journalists find material and log metadata into the system.
No. Please don’t, @ABC. Our libraries and archives are where our history resides. Different skills are required to store and access these materials than journalists possess to -supposedly – write history’s first draft. https://t.co/JVyIp5EEZO
— Anne Summers (@SummersAnne) June 8, 2022
To celebrate the 90th milestone, the broadcaster commissioned a six-part series hosted by actor David Wenham, which revisits the pasts of prominent Australians through moments drawn from … you guessed it, the vast ABC archives.
“The depth of the ABC archive provides the jumping-off points for discussion,” the publicity blurb says. Could ABC have chosen a worse time for such a radical plan?
Program makers say they have spent much of the year asking the archives division for help for the 90th anniversary. What will happen for the 100th when the positions in every capital city disappear?
Former ABC archivist Rod O’Hara explains why the role is so important (I tend to agree)
ABC archives staff to be targeted in latest proposed cuts’ @RNDrive https://t.co/t9D9dwKtaT
— Andy Park (@andy_park) June 9, 2022
The Australian Library and Information Association has warned that the short-term budget saving risks an “irreplaceable loss to Australia’s history and culture”. The group urgently seeks a meeting with ABC MD David Anderson, who was forced to defend the decision when he was door-stopped by reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
The outpouring of anger and grief from former and current ABC staff, program makers, and prominent Australians has been intense and has taken ABC executives by surprise.
In another 90th anniversary show, high-profile First Nations Australians, including Deborah Mailman, Leah Purcell, Bjorn Stewart, Miriam Corowa, and Nakkiah Lui, watch archival material and reflect on the A History of Indigenous programming, a vital part of our history which has been expertly maintained by archival staff.
Big shout-out to Clare Cremin and Kate Jarvis, whose work in the ABC archives guided us through six seasons of the Agony series. What professionals? Will we ever see them like again? https://t.co/HPMTYqa4M9
— Adam Zwar (@adamzwar) June 8, 2022
Although no journalist jobs have been targeted, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance media director, Adam Portelli, says the dissolution of the ABC archives will have “dramatic downstream effects” by increasing journalist workloads and a potentially detrimental impact on editorial standards.
“Journalists who are overworked will be further stretched as they get lumped with additional research and archiving responsibilities,” Portelli told Weekly Beast.
“Research services will no longer be available for same-day stories for programs such as 7.30, News Channel, The Drum, iView, and online accounts, so journalists and producers will be expected to shoulder this burden on top of their current workloads.
“Journalists and producers will be expected to decide which raw camera footage needs to be kept and add the metadata in the system on top of their daily workloads. There is a very real danger that with this added workload, valuable archival footage could be lost.”
Nine’s courtroom drama
It’s been a white knuckle ride for journalists at Nine Entertainment this week as an Adele Ferguson-led investigation into cosmetic surgery was dragged through the courts.
After no fewer than three court hearings in two days, the 60 Minutes program was cleared to go to air; Channel Nine wasted no time, programming it at 7.30 pm on Thursday, just hours after Justice Stephen Rothman dismissed a second application from cosmetic surgeon Joseph Ajaka for Nine Entertainment to hand over copies of its investigation.
The graphic TV special was accompanied by exclusive stories in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, which had been waiting for legal clearance. Reported by Ferguson and 60 Minutes producer Joel Tozer, the stories feature interviews with former staff and former patients as part of an investigation into the practices of cosmetic surgeons. It will be one of Tozer’s last pieces for Nine, after he was appointed executive producer of the A 7.30, replacing Justin Stevens, appointed news director in March. Tozer and host, Sarah Ferguson will take over 7.30 next month after Leigh Sales steps down.
Red card for the Oz
An article on the sports pages of the Australian caused outrage in football circles this week after the Socceroos beat the United Arab Emirates in a crucial World Cup qualifier. Under the headline ‘Go the Socceroos. But who are these blokes?’ Wil Swanton angered the notoriously fierce online football community with a 1,000-word piece that was variously labellabeledrespectful” “truly condescending”, “utter garbage”, “drivel,” and “pathetic”.
I long for the day I am given space to write 1000 condescending words about an important AFL, NRL, or rugby union match I haven’t seen. Why is this OK?https://t.co/cVKxTmYrCc
— Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) June 9, 2022
The problem? The hugely experienced sports journalist, whose bio claims he has covered international football, admitted he has little interest in the sport and said he didn’t bother to get up in the early hours to watch the match.
“That was the gist of it,” Swanton wrote. “Can’t say I saw it. Can’t say I was up at 3 am to watch the Socceroos’ 2-1 win over the United Arab Emirates at Doha’s Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.”
Like a red rag to a raging bull, Swanton went on to say he had never even heard of half the current team (“Who’s Jackson Irvine? The Wests Tigers halfback? Martin Boyle? Didn’t he win The Voice?”). “Socceroos 2, UAE 1. That’s basic know.”
“But she’s a bit of a blow in” – Will Swanton; this is journalism at its most ignorant and very worst. I’ve corrected it for you: “Naomi Osaka, the young Japanese tennis ace and double grand slam champion, inspired children all over the world lighting the Olympic torch” #Olympics pic.twitter.com/OIvWX7iaWL
— Alexandra Katherine (@alexandrakeates) July 25, 2021
Swanton was also criticized last year for his article, “Burning question: How Japanese is Naomi Osaka?”, in which he claimed the Tokyo Olympic committee “got it wrong” by having Naomi Osaka light the symbolic torch during the Games’ opening ceremony.
Last drinks at Neighbours
Neighbors are the longest-running drama in Australian history and launched the international careers of countless local stars, including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Margot Robbie, and Guy Pearce. Neighbours wraps up production after 37 years on Friday with cast and crew filming the final scenes at Nunawading in Melbourne. Minogue, Donovan, and Pearce returned to film the final stages, which will air in August.
While the cast is celebrated in the final weeks, some long-term crew members told Weekly Beast Fremantle is not paying them proper redundancy rates.
Fremantle maintains they are not employees, but contractors, so they won’t be entitled to the usual employee standards, even though their contracts have been rolled over annually for years. Ion sources say paying all 100 crew members the standard redundancy would have cost about $2m.
The regular Neighbours cast intend to bat on, launching a UK theatre tour next year.
Neighbors: The Farewell Tour, scheduled to take place across eight venues in March 2023, indicates just how popular the soapie still is in the UK.
The executive producer, Jason Herbison, has promised to wrap everything up in a satisfying way. “I see the very last scenes as being ultimately joyous; however, between now and then, there is a month of storylines to play out,” he told TV Tonight. “These have a bit of everything – triumph, tragedy, laughter, and tears.” The final episode airs on 1 August.
Losing the election was just the start of the humiliation for former Liberal ministers. Now in opposition, they have to fight for the attention of the media, which has little interest in what a shadow minister has to say while a new Labor government is in the honeymoon phase.
Today was tough for the 3.5 million Australian families with a mortgage.
The interest rate rise announced by the RBA will hurt many Australians.
Unnecessary government spending will only fuel higher inflation & higher interest rates. Australians don’t need that. pic.twitter.com/956D7D5Cxa
— Angus Taylor MP (@AngusTaylorMP) June 7, 2022
But Angus Taylor would have to have been disappointed when he called a press conference at the commonwealth offices in Sydney, and not a single reporter turned up.
According to the camera operators who were there to film the less-than-two-minute presentation, Taylor gave his little spiel about energy prices and said: “Happy to take questions”.
No journalists attended the first press conference Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor held. #auspol @SBSnews
— Naveen Razik 🏳️🌈 (@naveenjrazik) June 7, 2022
After a few moments of silence, he said “per,fect” and strode off, later posting a press conference video on his social media accounts.