Flat White

Respectful, sure — but balanced and impartial?

25 September 2017

5:00 PM

25 September 2017

5:00 PM

It was only last month that ABC staff were officially warned by editorial policy manager Mark Maley  “now that the government has announced the postal plebiscite … it is very important that we are impartial and that all perspectives are given a fair hearing and treated with respect by the ABC.”

In a separate message head of radio, Michael Mason, urged staff to “be respectful, balanced and impartial”.

So, let’s dip into some ABC reporting of recent days.

From the ABC News website, Thursday:

The staff of a Launceston pizza shop have altered the meaning of an anti-same-sex-marriage billboard next to their business, a day after a Hobart hotel distanced itself from a billboard atop its premises.

Employees at Wiseguise Pizza, in the suburb of Mowbray, started painting the brick wall adjacent to the “It’s OK to say no” sign, adding the words “to pineapple on pizza”…

From the same source, on Sunday:

When Sydney couple David Wilson and Kyle Moser took over the post office licence in Cobargo, a small country town on the NSW far south coast, they did not anticipate they would find themselves at the centre of the same-sex marriage debate…

After the same-sex marriage postal survey was announced, the couple decided to fly the rainbow flag at the post office as a symbol of diversity and acceptance…

But after Australia Post received a complaint that the rainbow flag was flying at one of its outlets, they were directed to take it down.

“While we acknowledge that our employees and other representatives are entitled to their individual views, as a government business enterprise Australia Post needs to ensure its post offices and other facilities are not used for making statements on political issues,” an Australia Post spokesperson said in a statement.

Mr Wilson and Mr Moser did not challenge the directive and took the flag down the same day.

So while the flagpole at the post office now stands empty, the town is being transformed into a sea of rainbows…

Mr Moser has seen the support grow with each passing day as businesses and local people put out their rainbow flags in support…

Another piece, from the same day:

British music icon Elton John has made a heartfelt call for Australia to embrace same-sex marriage…

The star took to Facebook to weigh in on the issue, calling on Australia to embrace same-sex marriage as an “expression of love”.

Sir Elton is not the only celebrity to have spoken out about the same-sex marriage debate in Australia.

Ellen DeGeneres has also publicly voiced her support…

Kylie Minogue has also urged people to vote yes, sharing a photo of herself wearing a shirt in support of same-sex marriage last year…

What do these stories all have in common?

Well, they’re respectful — as requested by Mason. And they’re all wildly supportive of same-sex marriage. Desperately so, in some cases. That Kylie endorsement will be 12 months old this Friday week.

That’s not news. It’s propagandising. And — surprise, surprise — there are no equivalently enthusiastic stories on the ABC’s website for the “No” campaign.

But no doubt managing director Michelle Guthrie will be boasting at the next Senate estimates how the broadcaster met one of its three “respectful, balanced and impartial” KPIs.

After all, everyone understands the ABC doesn’t really do balance and impartiality.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

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