‘I’m a writer, not a reporter’: How the ABC is turning away freelance writers
The ABC is rejecting freelance writers after finding they were being offered jobs at a higher rate than full-time staff.
Key points:ABC chief David Eames says he wants more freelance writersABC chief and chief newsreader Greg Sheridan says he’s “disappointed” about the situation and that “it’s a serious matter”A ABC spokesman said: “The ABC is committed to attracting and retaining the most qualified freelance writers to fill the gaps left by full-timers, but it is a serious situation that we are taking seriously.”
“The ABC understands that the majority of freelance writers are looking to earn a living through freelance work and want to take part in the ABC’s diverse workforce.”
We are taking the issue seriously and we will continue to look for ways to ensure the best and brightest are working for the ABC.
“A spokesperson for the Australian Writers Union said the organisation was “disgusted” at the situation.”
Our members are being offered more than they can realistically afford,” the union’s acting general secretary, David Macdonald, said.”
This is clearly unacceptable and a breach of ABC policy.”‘
It’s not right’The ABC’s chief news editor Greg Sheridan said he was “not comfortable” with the situation, but said it was not a “major issue” for the organisation.”
It’s just not the right way to do it.””
It’s certainly not the best way to attract and retain the best writers.”
It’s just not the right way to do it.
“The ABC declined to comment on the matter.
Mr Sheridan said the ABC was working with the Writers Guild to find a solution.”
The writers who have been approached have told us they are keen to continue their work, but that it is not a good enough solution for them and that we need to find another way,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.”
What I’ve heard from them is that the ABC has not been forthcoming about what’s going on, that they have not been offered the opportunities to do that which they need to do to get their work done.
“He said the writers were “unhappy and frustrated” that they had not been given a better deal.”
Some of the writers have been told they are being paid less than full staff and they are not getting the opportunities they need,” he added.’
We are all in this together’ABC chief of news and current affairs Greg Sheridan defended the decision to exclude freelance writers, saying the organisation “is a community broadcaster” and “does a great deal of community engagement”.”
We want to get as many people as possible to our programs and we’re not going to be able to do all of that by just giving them the same pay packet,” he says.”
If you’re going to have a job, it has to be for a reason, and the reason that we’re trying to attract writers is that we all have a responsibility to our audience.”ABC chief Greg Sheridan rejects claim freelance writers do not receive the same benefits as full-staffersThe ABC said it had not seen any reports of staff being offered less than what they were owed for writing for the network.”
In fact, a number of our writers are paid at or above their rates,” a spokesman said.
The ABC also said the amount of time a freelance writer worked in a given year was not related to the rate at which they were paid.”
All writers are entitled to the same rate, regardless of whether they work a full- or part-time schedule,” the spokesperson said.
But the Writers’ Guild of Australia said it is concerned about the way the ABC operates, with the issue being highlighted by several recent scandals.”
A number of writers are still being paid the same rates as full staff but the pay is not matched, so they are forced to work for less money than full time staff,” the guild said in a statement.”
They are not receiving the full value of their work and are often left in a precarious position.”‘
We’re just a small part of a larger organisation’The union’s executive officer, Sarah Brown, said the issue should not be viewed as an isolated case.”
Most of us are not full-timer people who are struggling to make ends meet,” she said.
Ms Brown said the lack of transparency and accountability was a concern.”
There are a number members who are still struggling to survive and get on with their lives, and we need an ABC where we can talk about the issues that affect our lives, not just the issues we’re concerned about,” she told ABC radio.”
But that is where we are, and that is the ABC we all work for, and it’s just a tiny part of what we do.