Auntie ABC passes the “biased reporting” test

Today’s Age:

THE ABC’s flagship radio current affairs programs — often the source of tension and controversy in the Howard years — have won overwhelming endorsement from a landmark report by an external expert.

An audit of AM, PM and The World Today found they were almost 96% accurate.


The review, by an expert who reported to the ABC’s director of editorial policies, Paul Chadwick, found 95.3% of items sampled from the three programs were either wholly or substantially accurate for plain facts and were 97.3% accurate on the context of the facts.

Denis Muller, an independent media research specialist and a former associate editor of The Age, devised a method to review a sample of 150 current affairs items from last October.

I’m sure that some will cavil that this audit only covered three radio programs, and thus doesn’t account for the dastardly mind-control powers of Red Kezza on the 7:30 report, but it’s a fine result considering the relentless complaints of bias from the Howard government, and especially the complaints from former Communications Minister Richard Alston against these radio programs in particular.

It would be interesting to see a comparative audit of programs from before the time of Director Scott’s “impartiality” rules (adopted in late 2006) to see whether they have made any fundamental difference to the flagship news programs, or whether the new mandates requiring a “balance” of opposing opinions on any “matter of public contention” have just meant that various opinion programs have subsequently been hijacked by “balance”, no matter how ridiculous and poorly argued some of those “balancing” views might be.

My own suspicion is that the news programs before the new regime would prove to have been just as accurate as in this last audit, while the accuracy of content presented in the opinion shows would prove to have declined drastically since the mandatory “balance” rules were imposed.

crossposted to Larvatus Prodeo

Categories: culture wars, media, Politics

1 reply

  1. There are two extensions I’d like to see
    (1) Equivalent metrics from other stations and shows.
    (2) Development of a metric that can indicate whether a report is actually “news” or “advertorial” (e.g. Media Watch’s recent expose of a drug company media release touted as real news by commercial stations, and perhaps “kitten up a tree” reports that serve no useful purpose – unless it was extremely whimsical like “dog rescues kitten”)
    Any guesses as to how other shows would fare?
    One difficult thing to assess is “completeness” – I remember a good example when channel-flipping many years back after an inquiry into electromagnetic radiation from power lines: the commercials all said “levels are under the safety limits”, but ABC/SBS said “levels are under current safety limits, but scientists recommended those limits should be decreased by a factor of 10″.

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