Monday, February 8, 2010

Misleading headline-Hewson denounced both sides

Updated 17 March
ABC HEADLINE: Abbott 'running scare campaign' on ETS

ABC REPORTED: ABC online political correspondent Emma Rodgers reports that former Liberal leader John Hewson wrote an opinion piece for the ABC's "The Drum" (available here). The piece criticised both side of politics for "squibbing" action on climate change.

ABC's headline "Abbott ' running scare campaign on ETS' misrepresents the content of an opinion piece by former Liberal Leader Dr John Hewson. Anyone viewing the news website and reading only the headline would be left with a false impression of the extent of Dr Hewson's criticism that attacked the policies of both sides. Can ABC please correct the headline to better reflect the content of the piece that criticised both sides of politics, such that readers only viewing the headline would not be mislead. I propose the following:
"Hewson says Government and Opposition "Squibbing" on climate change action"

OUTCOME:Complaint not upheld: ABC response-

Thank you for your email regarding the ABC News online article Abbott ‘running scare campaign’ on ETS.
 Your concerns have been investigated by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC.  We have reviewed the broadcast, assessed it against the ABC’s editorial standards and sought and considered material provided by ABC News. 
 Having reviewed the report, Audience and Consumer Affairs cannot agree that the headline is inaccurate or misleading.  The journalist has highlighted the most newsworthy aspect of Dr Hewson’s comments; his criticism of Mr Abbott’s stance on climate change.   
 Given Dr Hewson is a former Liberal Party leader, his criticism is all the more newsworthy.  It is also a reasonable news point, given that the story was written less than a week after Mr Abbott revealed his party’s policy. The headline reflects this news point.  The report itself addresses the other points raised by Dr Hewson in his article.
 Audience and Consumer Affairs believes the report is in keeping with section 5.2.2 (c) of the Corporation’s Editorial Policies.  The ABC Editorial Policies are available at the attached link;
 Your comments have been brought to the attention of the News Online Editor.

COMMENT: Seen on the ABC's website this headline misrepresents the content of the opinion piece by John Hewson. A more balanced headline is warranted to better capture the content that does not leave readers with a false impression of Dr Hewson's comments.


(d) Be impartial. Editorial judgements are based on news values, not for example on political, commercial or sectional interests or personal views. Do not unduly favour one perspective over others.

To paraphrase the ABC's Media Watch Program..."But this sort of reporting - and it's by no means the first example - entrenches scepticism, shall we say, about the ABC's ability to separate its news coverage from its editorial views.

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