The ABC’s opinion website, The Drum will cease to exist as of next Monday, instead to be replaced by an analysis and opinion page that will feature on the ABC website.
According to Fairfax, the axing comes as a result of a decision made by the ABC’s head of news, Gaven Morris, rather than by new managing director Michelle Guthrie, as a way of saving some pennies.
The Drum was launched by the ABC in December 2009.
Per reports, the ABC started informing its freelance contributors of the closure of operations on Tuesday, ahead of an official staff announcement in the afternoon.
The Drum’s online editor Chip Rolley has confirmed he will not renew his contract with the ABC and will leave the organisation in mid-August.
— Chip Rolley (@ChipRolley) July 5, 2016
There are no other editorial movements as a result of this change and the ABC will continue to work with external writers.
The ABC will continue to publish online contributions from heavyweights such as Insiders host Barrie Cassidy and Annabel Crabb, however freelance work in general will be a hard gig to land after the shutting down of the website.
In an email to staff on Tuesday afternoon, it’s understood Morris said the ABC was “shifting our emphasis from traditional opinion writing towards providing more of the essential context and analysis audiences need in order to fully understand and interpret the major stories and important issues”.
“As part of that, from Monday we are discontinuing The Drum as our online brand for analysis and opinion.
“The Drum has been a successful initiative for ABC News as a forum for commentary and debate, but as our digital audiences continue to grow and develop, and we continue to manage tight resources, it’s time for us to do this type of content in a different way.”
The Drum founding editor Jonathon Green said on Twitter he had sad feelings about the closure of the site.
a strange and quite powerfully sad feeling when something you created and fought hard for is pulled down. sorry to see @ABCthedrum go.
— Jonathan Green (@GreenJ) July 5, 2016
— Jonathan Green (@GreenJ) July 5, 2016
Naturally, other users of the site were disappointed with the loss:
— Anton Enus (@AntonEnus) July 5, 2016
@ChipRolley thank you Chip for beating the drum, and for being so gracious in your publishing
— Kumi Taguchi | 田口久実 (@kumitaguchi) July 5, 2016
— a jan dobson (@DobsonJan) July 5, 2016
— Ros Joyce (@TheBeerWidow) July 5, 2016
— wendyemily (@wendyemily2) July 5, 2016
— Fran Scarlett (@maeve2taichi) July 5, 2016
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