ABC warns staff after political reporter sparked fury with extraordinary claims genocide of Aboriginal Australians is ‘ongoing’
- The reporter made a wild claim on the air that sparked outrage.
- ABC bosses have now reissued the Voice reporting guidelines
ABC staff have been reminded to remain ‘impartial’ when reporting on the Voice debate days after a journalist sparked outrage over her comments.
Aboriginal affairs reporter Dana Morse said live on television that Australia Day activists were “protesting the genocide of Aboriginal people that is taking place today.”
ABC later tweeted his comments, which were aired without question last week on ABC’s Sunday morning political TV show Insiders, but deleted his genocide claim.
His comment about the ‘ongoing genocide’ drew a fierce response from Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who said there was ‘no genocide being perpetrated today’ before demanding that ABC ‘stop its activist reporters’. ‘.
Morse made the comment when speaking in the Voice to Parliament debate saying it would allow Aboriginal Australians to properly address issues that were frequently voiced during the Australia Day protests.
Now, ABC staff have been given a stark reminder of the station’s guidelines for covering the Voice in the wake of the furious dispute that sparked over the comments.
ABC staff were warned about their coverage of the Voice to Parliament debate after journalist Dana Morse (pictured) claimed there was an “ongoing genocide” of Aboriginal people.
Dana Morse said Australia Day activists (pictured, Lidia Thorpe at an Australia Day rally) were “protesting the genocide of Aboriginal people that is ongoing today.”
ABC issued a statement in the wake of the dispute over Ms Morse’s comments, insisting she was repeating the activists’ claims and not the broadcaster’s views.
“ABC News would like to clarify that she was describing the beliefs of some protesters and their motivations, not those of ABC,” he said.
But the broadcaster denied that Ms Morse had been advised by her on-air comments.
TV bosses have now reissued staff with the network’s 2022 ‘Voice Referendum Editorial Guide’, warning them to avoid expressing personal opinions.
He acknowledges that indigenous and non-indigenous staff will have a ‘strong and passionate’ view of the Voice and the debate will be ‘robust and potentially contentious’.
But he stressed that staff should not advocate for any particular outcome and tells staff to look beyond “the usual suspects” for a diverse range of opinions.
“ABC should not broadcast or publish claims that are demonstrably false without editorial justification and critical evaluation,” he tells the staff.
“It is important to distinguish between claims that are unpleasant or controversial and claims that are factually incorrect.”
Staff are told to ensure their reporting is fair and balanced, but cautioned against including extreme or fringe views ‘held by a small minority’.
“Avoid posting statements that are clearly intended to provoke and divide,” it adds.
It tells journalists to report on ‘Indigenous experiences and voices that are informed by reasoned analysis, not bias or misinformation,’ according to the HMS.
Journalists are also ordered to “always be respectful and avoid personal or spiteful attacks.”
The guidelines acknowledge that some high-profile indigenous staff may be part of the Voice debate, but adds: ‘The line between analysis and opinion is not always clear.
ABC staff have now been reminded of the station’s guidelines for covering The Voice in the wake of the furious line it sparked over comments.
“We advise any staff member participating in a public debate in their personal capacity to clarify when they are expressing a personal opinion or conclusion and are not speaking for ABC.”
The official instructions to staff are an update to the company’s existing editorial standards policy on independence, impartiality, and accuracy.
He tells staff that all editorial content must meet his ‘harm and offense standards’, as well as hate speech and reporting on indigenous issues.
“The upcoming referendum on the proposal to enshrine an Indigenous Voice in Parliament in the Constitution is likely to be one of the most significant events in this period of Australian politics,” the guidelines warn.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted ABC for comment.