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News March 26, 2024

Kim Williams’ Message to ABC and Triple J Staff: No More Bias

Senior Journalist, B2B
Kim Williams’ Message to ABC and Triple J Staff: No More Bias

The ABC’s new chair Kim Williams has a message for staff — get back on the fence, or else.

Williams, a veteran media executive, recently succeeded Ita Buttrose in the top job at the Corporation.

Before his arrival, however, he sat in a different type of hot seat — a podcast interview with Monica Attard.

Aunty is doing some things well (it’s “pivot” to TV), others not so great (It’s “pivot” to digital, in general). But there’s no place for bias within its ranks, he tells Attard in a recent episode of the podcast “The Fourth Estate,” recorded for “Double Take”.

“The bedrock of the ABC, at least journalistically, must always be an unerring commitment to independence, to editorial integrity. And to the extent that’s possible in human affairs, impartiality,” he explains.

Those rules, of course, apply to the triple j, the ABC’s youth network, and its current affairs program, Hack.

“If the ABC does not stand for such values, which are after all prescribed in the ABC act, that if it does not stand for such values, then I think it’s in danger of people saying, ‘well, why bother?’ We must have an institution in which we can repose our trust. Now that’s a very significant burden in the modern era.”

As a state-funded organisation, with a defined charter, the Corporation has to play a clean hand, every time.

“I think the ABC has to repose confidence and real commitment to those values,” he continued.

With Williams at the helm, he insists, the ABC is be a domain of responsible journalism, a source of “contemporary relevance,” facts will matter, bias is out.

“If the ABC is to sustain and hold a place of embedded trust with the Australian community if it is going to be seen as a vital aspect of Australian democracy that provides…a safe space for accessing information…it must have an aspiration for objectivity.”

Mentoring, work-place culture and mindful editorial decisions should help the process, he reckons.

Williams’ comments come as the ABC’s leadership faces scrutiny for the sacking of journalist Antoinette Lattouf, who claims she was unlawfully fired for posting content from Human Rights Watch about the war in Gaza to her Instagram account, and for the broadcaster’s reporting on the war between Israel and Hamas.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently said the public broadcaster needed “the right leadership” and that Williams, a long-time former News Corp Australia leader and Foxtel exec, was “a perfect fit”.

Previously, Williams had leadership posts at the Sydney Opera House Trust, the Australian Film Commission, Musica Viva Australia, and an executive role with the ABC.

Stream the “Fourth Estate” podcast below.

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