Former SBS journalists have spoken out against the multicultural broadcaster, accusing it of racism and bullying, while pleading with the board to appoint a non-white male news director.
SBS news director Jim Carroll is due to retire in December after a seven year run in the role, and SBS staff are calling for the board to take his retirement as an opportunity to create cultural change within the broadcaster.
In a letter seen by Guardian Australia, SBS staff said: “As a multicultural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander broadcaster, the appointment of the next director of news should be an opportunity and not a blind spot.
“We ask that the board of directors take this opportunity to reflect on SBS’s charter and aspirations as a world leading broadcaster and advocate for a candidate drawn from Australia’s multicultural and diverse communities.”
Accusations of racism & bullying
The broadcaster is also facing accusations from former Indigenous staff who claimed they experienced racism during their time at SBS.
SBS’ managing director James Taylor responded on Tuesday to tweets from screenwriter Kodie Bedford who wrote when she got a cadetship at SBS in 2008, she was always introduced as “the Indigenous cadet journalist”.
She also wrote she experienced “micro-aggressions, forms of paternalism and racism” from a colleague at the time.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, she wrote she still carries trauma from the ordeal.
“I still carry trauma and feel sick about it. Colleagues have been sharing their story and I’m adding my voice. We need to change the system.”
In response to Bedford’s accusations, Taylor told the Guardian Australia: “As I have said to all SBS team members today, I am committed to a culture that stands opposed to any form of racism or exclusion.
“It can take many overt and less overt forms, none of which are acceptable. Racism is abhorrent and we are committed to ensuring it has no place at SBS.”
Journalist Allan Clarke replied to Bedford’s tweets, writing he witnessed the racism she was subjected to, and also experienced racism at SBS himself.
“I worked alongside her and watched her go from a confident young reporter to hitting rock bottom,” he tweeted.
“The racism Kodie, myself and our Aboriginal colleagues were subjected to was horrific. Those toxic years damaged us and left scars.”
Meanwhile, Network 10 journalist Antoinette Lattouf (pictured) said she also experienced racism and bullying at SBS.
She also wrote on LinkedIn: “Why after 15 years am I sharing my experience of vicious bullying that I experienced in my first gig? It’s because after all these years, the entire industry severely lacks diversity, let alone inclusion.
“And SBS, which is meant to be the bastion of multiculturalism (or ‘the only place brown people should go’) has an almost 100% white management team.”
Latouff did say, however, SBS is doing better in representing a diverse Austalia than some “legacy press”.
“While there is obviously more public interest and criticism of the public broadcasters, it is important to note that they are doing demonstrably better than many other media outlets, including digital and legacy press.”
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