Has the ABC lost journalistic integrity?

Has the ABC lost journalistic integrity?

In my cold & flu medication haze I’ve stumbled across two scandals in the Queensland Election.  They both relate to this awful ad:

(Alternative link – hosted by Sydney Morning Herald)

It’s a piece of “political communication” for Bob Katter’s Australia Party.

It opens with a question – “how well do you know Campbell Newman? Do you really think he will stand up to the Greens and other minority groups?” It takes sound-bytes from the news where Campbell Newman says “I’m in favour of gay marriage” and plays it over and over again, interspersed with images of Senator Bob Brown and pixelated stock photography of a two gay men.
The original photos are here (the first scandal was the license conditions on this website specifically prohibit using its images for political advertising).  When I was called for comment on this piece of garbage advertising, I shared this little piece of info with the journalist.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s most prestigious papers, the photographer is livid: not only are these men NOT a couple, but these photos were an art-work discussing surrogacy.  The photographer is doing his best to enforce his copyrights and block Katter’s Australia Party from using the photos to bring hurt and derision upon the gay-community.
Well now it turns out that there is a second scandal in the ad.  One that is connected to our national broadcaster – and the most trusted name in Australian broadcast news.
The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) is a government funded entity whose charter insists on editorial independence and complete political neutrality.
In fact, the ABC’s policy for the Queensland Election says:

“The ABC must always be mindful of the primacy of the audience. It is they who will vote. It is they who, during a campaign especially, are making up their minds. It is they whom we serve. The Parliament created us under law for them. They pay for us.”

According to the disclosure at the end of the ad, the voiceover in the ad is “S. McGill”, after some digging we’ve managed to find Ms McGill’s voice-talent agency – Abe’s Audio.  You can listen to Suzanne’s talent demos here (there are three categories, you want Suzanne in each).

I’m sure you’ll agree that they’re the same voice.  So now with a quick Google for Suzanne McGill we find that she is a journalist and radio presenter for ABC Perth.
According to her staff profile, Suzanne McGill started working at the ABC in 2009 (about 4 state and 1 federal elections ago).  If you want confirmation that it is the same person, and not just a similar name, go to her show’s blog and listen to a few audio files.
Doing party-political ads when you work for the news division of Australia’s publicly funded broadcaster is, in my opinion at least, unethical.
I will be lodging a complaint with the ABC, The Australian Communications Media Authority, The Department of Communications, and The Queensland Electoral Commission in the morning.
The Brisbane Times is reporting that Ms McGill has been stood down from her on-air responsibilities at the ABC, pending a formal investigation into breaches of editorial policy. A spokeswoman for the ABC said Ms McGill “did not seek nor obtain permission for external voiceover work as required in accordance with ABC policies”. According to the Brisbane Ms McGill has not returned phone calls or email asking for comment.  ABC North-West is reporting that Ms Gill is still working for ABC off-air.
Be Sociable, Share!