January 30, 2014
It didn't take long for the Abbott Coalition and its conservative supporters to launch the attacks on the ABC in order to prepare the ground to cut its budget and its wings (ie., strip the ABC of its international broadcasting service).
The ABC is being cast as the enemy within because it is seen to be supporting the Snowden leaks about Australian spying (Snowden is deemed to be a traitor), and airing the allegations against the Australian navy by asylum seekers. The ABC is taking sides and in doing so it is un-Australian.
The rhetoric makes little sense. Thus Tony Abbott says that the ABC "appears to take everybody's side but our own''; that it lacks ''at least some basic affection for the home team'' and that the ABC should confine itself to being a ''straight news gathering and news reporting organisation.
There's a contradiction right there The ABC cannot confine itself to being a straight news gathering and news reporting organisation'', whilst simultaneously displaying its affection ''for the home side''. The latter implies being more more patriotic and therefore telling untruths if the home side has done wrong.
The sense that it does make is that News Corp will be rewarded for its service in helping the Coalition gain power. News Corp wants the ABC out of digital publishing (its cannibalising the local media landscape in the sense that its ongoing digital expansion threatens News Corps' business) and out of international broadcasting (ie.,delivering the Australia Network to the Asia-Pacific region). It's payback time. That's the politics.
In attacking the most trusted news organisation in the country, Abbott has chosen to ally himself with the least trusted. So we can infer from this that the Coalition have no interest in a journalism that is centred around journalists being truth-tellers, sense-makers and explainers.
This is important because we know realize that digital publishing is its own thing, not an additional platform for established news companies like News Corp. It's a web-first future now--a good example is the Guardian Media Group which has had a digital-first strategy for two years (this means that GMG takes resources away from print and invests them in digital); and it is in the second year of its five-year transformation programme to put Guardian News and Media on a more sustainable financial footing.
The Guardian Media Group see the decline of print as inexorable –ie., (circulation and advertising revenues in print continue to fall throughout the sector as readers and advertisers embrace new technologies and digital platforms). In contrast, digital revenue and readership is growing.A digital-first strategy is interpreted by the Guardian Media Group commitment to an 'open' journalism model, which sees the newspaper networked and linked with the rest of the web. Open journalism for them means editorial content which is collaborative, linked into and networked with the rest of the web.
So the ABC is never going to vacate the digital space. Nor will it be privatised. As Jack Waterford states Abbott's attack on the ABC is at odds with those:
Millions of Coalition voters [who] listen to the ABC and many of them, rural, regional, urban and inner urban, are passionate about it. But the civilised world view of the typical ABC listener is increasingly at odds with the angry and resentful ''anti-elitist'' and pseudo-nationalistic neo-liberal view of the world being heavily promoted by New Newscorp newspapers and the shock jocks, and adopted by many, but far from all figures in the government. There is an increasing divergence between the generally tolerant, humane, liberal and civilised culture of the classic ABC listener and the strident, cranky and increasingly anti-intellectual constituency to which some in the Coalition is pitching itself.
This constitiuency has been persuaded by the Murdoch press that they has been missing out or ignored in the ''national conversation''; a press that is e promoting a model of a divided, atomised and divisive society.