‘Insiders does need to do better’: ABC’s Insiders commits to increased diversity

Following criticism of a lack of diversity across its reporting, ABC’s Insiders host David Speers has committed to doing better, saying the comments were ‘valid’.

Ahead of the show’s panel last Sunday, Speers committed to ‘ bringing more diverse insights into the political debate’.

The issue was brought to a head the week prior, when a panel discussion on the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and Australia featured only white journalists. A Junkee investigation conducted by Rob Stott initially found the show had not featured a single panellist from a non-European background in at least three years. With further investigation, Stott found the show hadn’t had a single person of colour on its panel in at least a decade, and possibly since it began.

Across the weekend, Indigenous journalist Bridget Brennan featured on the panel and said the entire media industry needed a wake-up call.

“We need to be honest about the state of our media industry. For too long Aboriginal voices have not been elevated on programs like this one and across the media spectrum,” said Brennan.

Speers’ statement on the program was applauded across social media, although others have said more investigation is needed across the ABC. Journalist Marc Fennell said Four Corners would also need to be reviewed, while Mad Fucking Witches pointed to a lack of diversity across the ABC board.

Former Triple J presenter Gen Fricker has questioned the ABC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion after her experiences with the youth radio channel, during which time she said she was repeatedly forced to call out racism which was never addressed.

Speers opened Sunday’s panel with a straight to camera monologue about the lack of diversity on the show, committing to a better future and more deliberate choices in casting.

“Normally at this point in the program I run the ruler over the government or opposition: today, it’s a comment about our own program,” Speers said.

“We received plenty of valid criticism for failing to include an Indigenous journalist on last week’s show, as we discussed the Black Lives Matter movement.

‘‘As a program we lacked an important perspective.

‘‘Insiders does need to do a better job at bringing more diverse insights into the political debate, and it’s something we are committed to doing.”

Brennan followed with her own assessment of the failings.

“It is not good enough any more, particularly at this moment, but I would say any week, to have a panel of white people speaking about issues when there is very little lived experience of discrimination and racism on that panel,” she said.

“So I think it is important that we be honest. I think it is important that we be positive about the many Indigenous journalists in this country doing fine work and it is time to change. So if this week is the week that we can do that and look at that and be honest about it.”

In response to Fricker’s criticism of Triple J, the broadcaster said it was committed to doing better.

“Triple j is proud of the diversity of our people, on-air and behind the scenes, and the ways in which we amplify diverse voices, music and issues on our airwaves,” a spokesperson said.

“We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusiveness but know we can always do better for our people and our audience. Like many media organisations, we are listening to and reflecting on the current conversation and our place within it. We will continue to work harder and be better.”


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