The ABC is a master of weasel words

THE Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a huge organisation, funded by public money, that dominates the media in Australia. It purports to be among the most liberal and forwar-thinking. Yet oft times, it is exposed as having a colonial outlook, one that harks back to the days of British Raj.

This is not surprising – Australia was settled by British convicts but the rulers were the upper classes from Britain. For many years, Australia had a whites-only migration policy.

For the most part I ignore the clear evidence of discrimination that I notice on the national broadcaster. But at times I react – as I did on September 5 this year, nine days before the federal elections. I submitted the following complaint:

Subject: White-oriented broadcasts

This morning, I watched a vox pop about the elections. Every single person — there were eight or nine — interviewed was white. The same thing happened in the 2010 elections.

Now this is not about political correctness. But a fairly decent percentage of the citizenry in this country is not white – and if you want to give an accurate picture of voting intentions, then you have to (whether it is distasteful to you or not) also interview non-whites.

It is shameful that in this day and age, your staff act as though this is still the 1950s.

But the ABC will never fess up and take its medicine. It has many experts on weasel words in its ranks and this was evident in the reply it sent me:

Thank you for your email.

The story you refer to was a wrap of the Vote Compass survey taken during the election campaign.

The vox pops were taken around the country over the five weeks of the campaign.

While we agree the voices used may not fully represent the ethnic makeup of Australia there are too many variables at play to suggest this is anything other than coincidence.

As we said over a number of weeks across several states individual crews of reporters sought comments on particular issues. It is likely their only “riding” instruction would be to seek a range of views. However, the location where those views were sought, the time of day, the willingness of people to comment, the quality of those comments all play into which are selected.

There was certainly no intention to cause offence and we apologise if it was taken.

They never say sorry for causing offence; they always resort to the weasel words “if you were offended, we apologise”. Words fail me.


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