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ABC appoints veteran journalist Craig McMurtrie as editorial director

The ABC has appointed Craig McMurtrie as the national broadcaster’s editorial director.

McMurtrie takes over from Alan Sunderland who announced his retirement last year after a 40-year career with the national public broadcaster and SBS.

Incoming ABC editorial content boss, Craig McMurtrie: “My most important task is to support and defend fearless, independent public interest journalism.”

The editorial position at the ABC has been increasingly controversial under the current government with MPs and ministers complaining about the broadcaster’s political and business coverage.

Last May, the broadcaster was censured by the Australian Communications and Media Authority over an ABC News report describing former Prime Minister Tony Abbott as “the most destructive politician of his generation.”

The following month, Federal minister of communications, Mitch Fifield, blasted the broadcaster for broadcasting “Labor Lies” over a report by economics editor Emma Alberici examining the government’s proposed tax cuts.

In the subsequent fall-out from the report, ABC chair Justin Milne was forced to resign after accusation he sought to have Alberici fired from the broadcaster.

The ABC chair position has been empty since Milne stood down last December. On Sunday, Nine reported Ita Buttrose is being mooted to take the role.

Acting ABC managing director David Anderson welcomed McMurtrie to the and paid tribute to Sunderland, who has been in charge of the broadcaster’s editorial since 2013 .

“We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a person of the calibre of Alan Sunderland holding this position at the ABC in recent years,” Anderson said.

“I’m delighted to announce as his successor Craig McMurtrie, a distinguished journalist and one of the ABC’s most respected editorial leaders.”

McMurtrie said about his appointment: “The ABC’s role as Australia’s trusted national voice is more vital than ever, and it’s an honour and also humbling to be given such a responsibility.

“My most important task is to support and defend fearless, independent public interest journalism and conversations, and freedom of expression, as well as ensuring all ABC output is consistent with our high editorial standards.”

McMurtrie has been a journalist for almost four decades, starting as a cadet on Radio New Zealand in 1980.

He joined the ABC in 1991, and has been a daily news and current affairs reporter and federal parliament correspondent. For five years McMurtrie served as the broadcaster’s Parliament House bureau chief.

As the ABC’s US correspondent and Washington bureau chief, McMurtrie covered the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Haiti’s struggles following the 2010 earthquake.

Since 2012 he has been a senior member of the ABC New leadership team, most recently as deputy director and executive editor.


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