Public trust and public interest were at the centre of the vision of the ABC as news provider outlined by news director Gaven Morris in a Press Club address on 10 May.
Australians trust the national broadcaster more than any other news provider, Morris said, and “certainly more than any politician”, with 80 per cent describing the network as “their trusted source of news and information”.
The ABC Director of News, Analysis and Investigations laid out the network’s credentials on public interest journalism – including multiple official investigations and policy change prompted by the reporting of the Four Corners team in the last few years – and said ABC News aimed to increase in-depth and innovative public interest reporting across all mediums and locations.
New initiatives include the creation of a specialist reporting team, a public collaboration project to investigate the aged care sector, a renewed emphasis on the 7.30 current affairs program and the lifting of the geo-block on the ABC News channel, enabling international audiences to access the service.
On the freeze to annual indexation of operational funding announced in the budget this week, Morris said it effectively amounts to “a deep new cut" to the ABC’s budget of $84 million over three years and would inevitably involve cuts to output and staff.
Public funding to the ABC had declined by $200 million in the last five years alone, Morris said, and the ABC's per capita funding is already 34 per cent lower than the average of other public broadcasters.
“Make no mistake, there is no more fat to cut in ABC News. From this point on, we’re cutting into muscle,” he said.
But Morris was hopeful the funding outlook might change before the budget measures are due to take effect on 1 July next year.
“The ABC is in fact still preparing our next triennial funding submission, covering the fiscal 2019-2022 period,” he said.
Read the speech online