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Editorial Quality

ABC Editorial Policies

The ABC Editorial Policies and associated guidance outline the principles and set the standards that govern ABC content. They are a day-to-day reference point for content makers and are critical to the ABC’s ability to meet its statutory obligations and the expectations of audiences. They provide the basis for the ABC Code of Practice, which the ABC provides to the industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

In addition, the Editorial Policies give practical shape to statutory obligations in the ABC Act, in particular the obligations to provide services of a high standard; maintain independence and integrity; and ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is accurate and impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism.

Editorial management and guidance

No changes were made to the Editorial Policies or the Code of Practice in 2019-20. However, there were several new and updated guidance notes, which follow below:

New guidance notes

Reporting and portraying disability in ABC content
(issued 3 July 2019)

Hate speech, terrorism & mass killings
(issued 26 November 2019)

Dealing with trauma and survivors of trauma
(issued 4 June 2020)

Updated guidance notes

External work and editorial conflicts
(revised 12 February 2020 - minor change to the section on consistency and record keeping re: timeliness and pre-approval)

Differentiating between factual reporting, analysis and opinion
(revised 19 February 2020 - addition of an analysis vs opinion checklist)

(revised 30 April 2020 - extensive revision including podcasts, acknowledgment of country)

(revised 22 June 2020 - adding in audio description changes)

Editorial reviews

The ABC consistently reviews its own performance against the editorial standards. Content makers and program teams regularly review their own work, and the ABC also commissions reviews that are independent of content makers and carried out by a range of internal and external reviewers.

The 2019-20 reviews and ABC responses to those reviews are published on the ABC’s corporate website: http://about.abc.net.au/howthe-abc-is-run/what-guides-us/abc-editorialstandards/editorial-reviews/.

Corrections and clarifications

The ABC publishes a Corrections and Clarifications page on its corporate website which lists corrections and clarifications made to ABC content across radio, television and digital platforms, whether as a result of complaints or for any other reason:

In 2019-20, 51 corrections or clarifications were published on the Corrections and Clarifications page on the ABC’s website (46 in 2018-19). Where online transcripts existed, editor’s notes and corrections to copy were also published.

Election Coverage Review

The Election Coverage Review Committee (ECRC) is convened during each federal, state or territory election campaign to monitor ABC coverage and ensure ABC editorial standards are met.

The Committee is chaired by the Editorial Director or a senior editorial policy advisor and comprises representatives from all relevant ABC divisions. It is principally a committee of review and does not supplant the usual lines of editorial authority in each division during an election campaign.

For federal elections, the ECRC reviews externally commissioned share of voice data to ensure appropriate editorial balance is maintained and no single political party is disproportionately represented. This is done while recognising that there are a range of factors which can and will affect the amount of time or share of voice of each party.

For state and territory elections, the ECRC monitors content, internal records and feedback to ensure editorial balance. Audience complaints related to election coverage are reviewed by the Committee and the Chair of the ECRC is also responsible for administering the free broadcast time allocated to eligible political parties. Broadcast slots are provided on television and radio for policy announcements by political parties who meet the eligibility criteria.

The ECRC did not convene in 2019-20.