Dumbing down : 7:30 report

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This is the first time I have seen the FABC site. I'm alarmed by the sudden and extreme dumbing-down of the 7:30 Report. In a matter of weeks it seems to have fallen from being the home of some quite decent jounalism to being a lot of incoherent drivel targetted at morons. If ABC management were trying to save money by sacking Kerry O'B, they could have kept much of the quality by bringing in some sparky young journalist. George Negus is simply an insult. I would have expected some ongoing discussion of this on the FABC site, but I can't find it. Has there been such a thread?

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2001


There are two possible explanations for the current state of the 7.30 Report. One is the journalistic notion of the 'silly season', where half the nation is presumed to have eaten and drunk too much, and the other half is on the beach. It is a time of year when the Prime Minister is off duty and we have an Acting Prime Minister. There's not a lot of domestic news happening, partly because the newsmakers aren't doing much. In previous years current affairs programs have gone into recess through January. I hope that what we are seeing is just a manifestation of the 'silly season', but I am not confident that it is as simple as that. '

There does seem to be some kind of plan to downgrade current affairs on the ABC. When Friends of the ABC have raised this issue in letters to the Chairman and to the Managing Director, we have had no reply.

There seems to be a feeling within the ABC that current affairs has gone out of style, that what audiences want is more "lifestyle programs", sport, and sharemarket news. While that view existed before Jonathan Shier arrived, it does appear to have gained strength since his arrival.

A rigorous, independent and fearless news and current affairs service has been the cornerstone of the ABC. Without it, the whole institution is in danger of collapse.

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2001

After posting an early reply to this thread, I saw the 7.30 Report tonight, Monday 8 January. It inclined me to believe that the perceived softness in the summer 7.30 Report is more due to the season than a deliberate dumbing down.

Tonights program featured a report on an alleged $100 million dollar loss incurred by NSW Grain, a body set up under NSW law to which all NSW farmers are compelled to sell their grain. Questions were raised as to whether this massive loss was due to incompetence, neglect, criminal behavoir or some other cause. Not a good look for NSW Labor and Bob Carr.

Later the program reported on the relationship between the grain authority and a company connected with Liberal Party identity John Elliot. It reported that Elliot's company was under investigation, and that Elliot had denied any wrongdoing. Not a good look for the Liberal Party.

Another segment interviewed Acting Prime Minister John Anderson. It was not a tough interview, but in my opinion skillfully revealed something about him. In particular his claim to be a great supporter of reconcialiation looked hollow when he refused to utter the "s" word and came up with the standard Howard formula.

Yes, I think there are pressures within the ABC to tone down on current affairs issues, but I don't think that tonight's edition of the 7.30 Report is evidence of this.

Darce Cassidy

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2001

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