Censorship or Common Sense: Alberici and the ABCs of writing and research
The ABC’s chief economics correspondent, Emma Alberici, smashing over her corporate tax cuts article is bad for journalism
I was surprised at the recent vitriol (well, not really…but let’s go with that for a bit) Emma Alberici was hit with for an article she wrote on corporate tax cuts.
It raised concerns for me about freedom of the press, ABC management under Managing Director Michelle Guthrie and the direction the public broadcaster seems to be going in, and why it might be…
Not that journalists are above reproach — FAR FROM IT.
But this incident is just a little bit stinky.
A little bit personal.
A little but NQR.
Her piece, ‘There's more to jobs and growth than a corporate tax cut’, was received by the anti-ABC brigade (aka the Murdoch Press — I use the word ‘press’ loosely — and the current Coalition government) as ill-written and uninformed, and certainly not befitting of someone with the title ‘ABC Chief Economics Correspondent’.
The ABC’s own much-respected Media Watch even jumped in, pinpointing the confusion in the piece around profits and revenue.
With all the hue and cry, ABC Management took action…
“Editor’s note: This analysis has been revised and updated by our chief economics correspondent. Passages that could be interpreted as opinion have been removed. Our editorial processes have also been reviewed. Emma Alberici is the ABC’s chief economics correspondent and is a respected and senior Australian journalist.”
Feels like it to me…
Stepping back from the content, on the surface it’s hard to argue that Alberici was not in breach of ABC editorial guidelines by inserting opinion into the piece — or rather analysis that could be read as opinion — where the guidelines state this must not occur.
She also made a rookie error (which I say reservedly because this reporter is no rookie and I respect her greatly) of not asking for a response from the government…or maybe she did, and no one would comment because they know their own arguments about the corporate tax cuts are SWISS CHEESE.
That aside, the reaction was a complete NONSENSICAL.
It was so unbelievably hysterical, particularly from the Australian, that one can only construe it mostly occurred to try and distract from the government’s rolling litany of woes, where almost a day doesn’t go by of us learning of some new nonsense, scandal or otherwise from within its ranks.
Worse, the way the ABC handled it, while on the surface this may seem to be the ABC just adhering to protocol, feels far more sinister and certainly not how a media organisation should approach such an issue.
This is particularly more so when one considers that others, like respected economist Saul Eslake and, as reported by The Guardian, Michelle Guthrie herself at a Senate estimates hearing, claimed there was nothing factually incorrect about the article.
Move along, nothing to see…but still a lot of brouhaha from a government and right-wing media so scared of how dire the next Federal Election is looking for them (we’re nearly at Newspoll 30…that won’t mean much for international readers but will for Aussies) that they will do anything to distract the electorate.
The test will be the next time Alberici write a piece. Of course, more scrutiny will be applied internally by editorial staff (if there are any left after the massive job cuts at the ABC) before anything she writes is published, but will they also silence her when she criticises, well, anyone, but particularly the Turnbull government.