Newly installed ABC boss Michelle Guthrie has taken a thinly veiled swipe at Australian media companies de-investing in journalism, highlighting the number of major, exclusive stories the public broadcaster has snared in recent times.
In a speech last night to the Lowy Institute Media Awards dinner in Sydney, Guthrie cited Four Corner’s recent investigation into youth detention in the Northern Territory, its election coverage (across all channels) and its election eve coverage that continued well into the night when other networks had packed-up and gone home.
Guthrie believed the the public broadcaster bought a dinstinctively “ABC content” to its reporting and follows on from a study published on B&T this week that found that quality state-owned media worked well at outing and limiting extremist views.
The newly installed managing director also had a dig at “new media” who used “click bait” to lure in readers. “I remain to be convinced of the long-term prospects of some of the new wave of media companies. They offer quick ‘hits for their target audiences, via short, attention- seeking news items and clips, or listicles that generally lack substance. It could be argued that their content is as shallow as their revenues,” she said in the speech.
“In today’s media world, instant news has become something of a commodity. Audiences have immediate access to a range of sources – some questionable, some not – on almost every major news event.
“This means that in the news space, the key to longevity is in the ‘value add’: that undeniable extra that a news organisation can bring to the conversation such as the investigative piece, the in-depth analysis, the local angle, the incisive and through-provoking debate, the forensic interview.”
Guthrie also highlighted the ABC’s commitment to having journalists “on the ground” covering important overseas events.
“The facts speak for themselves. At a time where other media companies have whittled away their overseas reporting capacity, the ABC has maintained a strong level of investment and service,” she said before adding: “This investment by the Corporation in overseas reporting and analysis is against the trend of a massive contraction in international coverage, depressingly catalogued by the Prime Minister in his address to this forum two years ago. The trend has not abated, for reasons we are all familiar with.
“No doubt because of this, the ABC has increasingly become the destination for big-breaking news events. The village might have become global in the digital world, but it still requires our presence to bear witness and to provide audiences with knowledge of events as they occur,” she said.