ABC stands by Andrew Probyn despite conceding election reports needed more context

The ABC is standing by its political editor, Andrew Probyn, for his reporting over the upcoming Federal by-elections which saw the broadcaster criticised by the Communications Minister for repeating “Labor lies”.

In its response to government complaints, the ABC conceded the lack of context around the claim the Prime Minister had chosen the elections’ date was a lapse in the organisation’s standards of accuracy but that did not detract from the body of Probyn’s work.

ABC political editor, Andrew Probyn.

The complaints about Probyn’s reporting were the latest in a series in grievances from the government about the broadcaster. Two weeks ago, the ABC’s managing director Michelle Guthrie warned Australians would not tolerate the ABC being a political punching bag.

Earlier this year, the ABC was censured by regulator ACMA for a report by Probyn where the senior correspondent described former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, as “the most destructive politician of his generation.”

During that ACMA investigation, the ABC also backed Probyn, stating his report “was duly impartial and in keeping with the ABC’s editorial standards”,  given Abbott’s history and political track record.

Regarding the latest complaint, the ABC was equally defiant with an ABC spokesperson saying: “Andrew Probyn is a respected journalist who has distinguished himself with a large body of award-winning and news-breaking political reporting during his lengthy career. Before starting as 7.30 Political Correspondent in 2017 he was Federal Political Editor for The West Australian and was twice named Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery Journalist of the Year.

“Andrew is the first to recognise that the ABC has the strongest expectation of accuracy in our coverage and analysis of current events – he meets that expectation daily. In a range of stories Andrew filed concerning the upcoming five federal by-elections, the ABC has acknowledged that one statement in one 7pm News story on Friday 25 May required more context.

“A statement that the Prime Minister chose the 28 July by-elections date should have either been attributed to sources or presented in the context of explicit denials that he had selected the date. In the absence of such context, the statement was found not to have met ABC standards for accuracy.

“This acknowledgement is consistent with the ABC’s rigorous and transparent processes for editorial oversight. It does not detract from the body of quality reporting and analysis Andrew continues to provide to ABC audiences.”


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