Conservative critics have nowhere to turn as the ABC goes all in on coverage of the Queen’s death | Amanda Meade

Can you imagine the outcry from News Corp if the ABC hadn’t treated the death of the Queen with the reverence it deserved? With the ABC devoting significant resources and airtime to the historic event the critics had nowhere to turn, that was until Crikey criticised the public broadcaster for sending too many people to London, and agreed.

“The ABC has confirmed they have sent 27 employees to the United Kingdom to spearhead their coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s death amid growing backlash over their saturation of royal stories,” reported on Friday.

For the record, the ABC has 30 people in London, including correspondents already there covering other European news, and Nine Entertainment has flown in 100 staff, including outgoing A Current Affair host, Tracy Grimshaw.

The ABC has a charter which demands it cover events of national significance and it has to service digital, radio, TV, and on-demand programs and channels across 24 hours a day.

These include the ABC news website, the ABC news channel, News Radio, and programs such as AM, PM, The World Today, the 7pm News and News Breakfast.

Radio presenters Richard Glover, Virginia Trioli and Raf Epstein are on the ground in the UK to do live crosses and reports for the ABC’s 53 local radio stations.

The ABC website has peaked at 2.9 million daily unique users and there have been 741,000 users of the ABC News app. ABC TV and ABC news channels achieved combined national reach of 5.5 million viewers from Friday to Sunday, the ABC said.

Meanwhile, shock jock Steve Price complained that the ABC had not aired the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, instead broadcasting Harrow. The procession was played live and in full on the ABC News channel.

It’s the spontaneous moments that have made great TV. Doing vox pops along the queue to see the Queen lying in state, ABC correspondent Barbara Miller stumbled across a man who had been part of the planning of the event, resulting in an extraordinary conversation about his former role as the Black Rod.

A priceless moment when @abcnews talks to a random member of the public in the queue to pay respects to Her Majesty & the person turns out to be the former Black Rod!

When asked to explain the role he says “Well you have a Black Rod in Australia” 🤣

— Aaron Rankin (@Aaron_R_Rankin) September 15, 2022

Fresh face on old opinions

With only 5,400 followers on its TikTok account, perhaps Sky News Australia was hoping to boost its audience when it recruited a young woman who describes herself as “just a girl with the opinions of a 65-year-old white man” to post on its behalf.

Alongside zingers from Andrew Bolt, Piers Morgan and Rita Panahi, a relatively unknown social media enthusiast Carla Efstratiou, or @gowokegobrokeaus, posts typical rightwing fare on the Sky News TikTok account.

Screenshots of Sky News TikToks
Sky News TikTok account is featuring a random rightwing TikToker. Photograph: TikTok

Standing in front of Sky News digital stories, she bags unions, Anthony Albanese, Meghan Markle, the Greens and “woke” culture. In a recent post about Lizzo she said the Emmys was wrong to celebrate the singer because there was “an elephant in the room here with Lizzo” and that Hollywood pretends “being obese is not a problem”.

We asked Sky News if they picked up Efstratiou to contribute to or to run their TikTok account and overnight Efstratiou locked her personal TikTok account.

But not before we watched them. Efstratiou blames the Knox grammar group chat in which boys posted “inappropriate images and engaged in offensive commentary” on the “woke agenda”. “I think it’s because as a society, we’re trying to push this woke agenda on to boys and men when they just don’t want any part of it and it’s resulting in all of this stuff being taken underground,” Efstratiou said.

In August, she proposed erecting a wall around the eastern suburbs to quarantine it from Covid restrictions. “My idea is to erect a wall from here to here, basically Anzac Parade, and everyone east of Anzac Parade can all go out and have the same freedoms as we all had before because all of the cases are west of Anzac Parade.

Sky News said it launched the TikTok channel one week ago and “is pleased with the positive reception we’ve received amongst a younger demographic, having had 1m views” but did not address the status of Efstratiou.

“This builds upon our success on YouTube as Australia’s largest news channel with 2.8 million subscribers, Australia’s #1 most engaging TV news page on Facebook, and our growth on which is now one of Australia’s Top 10 news sites,” Sky News said.

“We look forward to bringing news and analysis to more people on more platforms as we solidify our position as Australia’s most engaging digital publisher.”

IndigenousX offline

When the Queen died last week Prof Sandy O’Sullivan from Macquarie University was tweeting on behalf of IndigenousX and attempted to explain the reaction of First Nations people and put it into a historical and social context.

“For those saying we should be magnanimous about the passing of the Queen, a reminder that the Queen inserted herself into the lives of Indigenous people here multiple times,” O’Sullivan wrote. “She wasn’t a bystander to the effects of colonisation and colonialism, she was an architect of it.”

As the most recent host, I can attest this was not only unsafe (death threats and incessant racist and transphobic stuff) but there was only a few valiant people shouting it down. Pause is right, and hopefully we’ll be back.

— Prof Sandy O’Sullivan (Wiradjuri, trans they/them) (@sandyosullivan) September 14, 2022

On Thursday IndigenousX reluctantly paused its Twitter account due to the amount of abuse it attracted.

“Given recent events, the IndigenousX team is concerned that we cannot currently provide a safe space for hosts or followers via this account. As such, we are hitting pause on hosting in order to give us time to consider the best course of action for the future.”

Right or wrong?

The tabloids had a field day in May when Daniel Andrews criticised model and influencer Rebecca Judd after she claimed Labor wasn’t doing enough to combat a spate of “rapes, bashings and home invasions” in her affluent Melbourne suburb of Brighton.

So when the Victorian crime statistics came out this week it was a juicy follow-up story. Was Judd right? Or was the premier spot on?

We all know what they say about lies, damn lies, and statistics, so it appears News Corp reporters interpreted the data according to the angle they wanted to take.

A screenshot of contradictory headlines from about the same story
Contradictory headlines from about the same story. Photograph: Supplied

Victorian crime statistics reveal Bec Judd was right about Brighton, was the headline on a story by Ellen Ransley and Mark Buttler in the Herald Sun.

“They say numbers don’t lie, and when it comes to the rise of crime in plush Melbourne suburbs, it turns out Bec Judd was telling the truth,” they said.

But Rohan Smith in said the crime statistics showed a drop in overall crime “contradicting claims by influencer Rebecca Judd of a crime wave in her suburb”.

The website must have been very confusing for readers as they saw both stories with polar opposite headlines next to each other.

So who was right?

While crime was down overall, it appears Ransley and Butler used the following statistic to justify the headline: “In the 2020/2021 financial year, 88 residential aggravated burglaries were recorded in the posh suburb, but in the past 12 months, there were 120 incidents.”

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Sticking to the story

Nine News has written to the Walkleys to argue that its apology and payout to former MP Andrew Laming for a story which falsely accused him of taking an “upskirting” photograph does not mean the journalists should be stripped of their award.

The former Liberal National MP reached a confidential settlement with Nine this week and an apology was read in court.

“On 27 March 2021, Nine News Queensland broadcast a report about Dr Laming who was at the time a member of federal parliament,” the apology said. “Serious allegations were made about Dr Laming in that report and he sued Nine because of it. Nine News has now seen material which indicates that the photograph Dr Laming took was not lewd in nature. Nine News unreservedly withdraws those allegations about Dr Laming and apologises to him and his family for the hurt and harm caused by the report.”

A body of work titled The Investigation of Andrew Laming, by Nine Queensland’s Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell, won the 2021 Walkley award for television/video news reporting.

Weekly Beast understands Nine has argued that the photograph was only one element from the body of work about Laming’s conduct and was a matter of public interest.

The network conceded that it could not prove that the photograph he took of the young woman without her knowledge was lewd in nature because it was deleted by Laming and was unable to be recovered.

However, they argued the other stories submitted for the award were journalistically valid and relevant to the conduct of a serving member of federal parliament and he was reprimanded by Scott Morrison at the time.

The Walkleys told Weekly Beast: “The proceedings have otherwise settled on confidential terms. The Walkley Foundation is considering the matter and makes no further comment at this time.”

Nine’s challenge to News Corp

It’s four years since Nine merged with Fairfax to create Nine Entertainment, which went on to fully acquire radio stations 2GB and 3AW to create Australia’s biggest media company.

But this week was the first time Nine had publicly presented itself as a cohesive media giant, sharing the spotlight equally between television, digital, publishing and radio as it unveiled its 2023 plans at an event for 1,400 advertisers, media buyers and media at Luna Park.

With the tagline “Australia belongs here”, Nine executives presented a more diverse, inclusive tone and appeared to challenge News Corp Australia’s mantle as the nation’s most powerful media player.

Nine’s chief executive, Mike Sneesby, read out the company’s new mission statement: “We shape culture by sparking conversations, challenging perspectives, and entertaining our communities. We bring people together by celebrating the big occasions and connecting the everyday moments, Australia, belongs here.”

It was the first Nine event to relegate linear TV to a supporting role as it highlighted the importance of streaming on 9Now and Stan and unveiled new features such as “start again” if you missed the start of a program.

Journalists from the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Australian Financial Review (AFR) spoke in video packages about the importance of journalism, and a new feature of audio stories on the news websites was announced.

The AFR was described as a fully integrated, cross-platform “superbrand” spanning print, digital, podcasts, summits and extensive lists of business.

The Age’s star investigative reporter Nick McKenzie, now a 60 Minutes reporter too, presented a segment with his 60 Minutes colleague Sarah Abo. The multi-award winning reporter said he was speaking on behalf of all the journalists at Nine “who believe in the truth”.

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