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Caroline Jones to leave the ABC after half a century

One of the ABC’s longest serving on-air faces is to depart the organisation after more than 50 years.

The departure of Caroline Jones, presenter of the ABC’s Australian Story, was announced by the organisation this afternoon. The move comes after a series of tumultuous changes in recent months including the end of The Drum opinion website, a radical reshuffle of the Radio National line-up and the axing of the team behind science show Catalyst.

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Jones contributed to and presented Australian Story – which tells the stories of ordinary Australians in their own words – since its launch in May 1996. In June she celebrated the program’s 20 year anniversary.

The ABC claimed in today’s announcement that the decision to leave the show came from Jones. It issued a statement on her behalf saying: “This is not an easy decision for me. The ABC is in my DNA. So is Australian Story, and that will not change.”

“I’m far too busy to retire, but now there are some other loyalties claiming my attention, and I move on to the next phase of my life with gratitude.”

Earlier in her career, Jones was the first female reporter on what was the country’s first nightly current affairs show, This Day Tonight. She was also the first woman to anchor Four Corners, and was a regular on ABC Radio National.

Jones is also one of a very small number of broadcasters to have been awarded both a Walkley and a Logie.

ABC director of News, Gaven Morris, said: “Caroline is simply a legend of Australian journalism, a trailblazer, an inspiration and a role model for so many women in the media.”

The format of Australian Story will change when it returns to air on February 6, 2017, and will no longer be introduced by a presenter.

Changes at the ABC led by new boss, Michelle Guthrie, have been met with growing resistance by staff. The Guardian reports today that in one confrontation with staff Guthrie told them that changes at Radio National were “a very small decision for me”.

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