The ABC has apologised for providing an incomplete picture in a radio report about an Alice Springs community forum held to address alcohol-fuelled violence in the community.
Matt Paterson, the mayor of Alice Springs, demanded on Thursday that ABC chair Ita Buttrose retract stories that appeared on the national broadcaster’s platforms that claimed a community forum at the Alice Springs Convention Centre expressed elements of “white supremacy”.
The forum, which took place on Monday, was attended by thousands of residents who were concerned about drunken violence and property crime in the area.
Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson demanded an apology.Credit:Kate Geraghty
Paterson demanded an apology to the Alice Springs community and told The Australian that the ABC reports had misrepresented what took place.
Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton backed his concerns and said the ABC stories were “doing a disservice to everybody in that local community”.
Breakfast radio host Ben Fordham, of Sydney’s 2GB, also took aim at the ABC’s coverage, arguing it had cherry-picked from people outside the meeting who “did not represent the real mood in the room”. 2GB is owned by Nine, the owner of this masthead.
In a statement on the ABC’s website, the national broadcaster said one report on its radio current affair program AM did not adequately provide listeners with the context of the meeting or a variety of perspectives expressed at it. The ABC said that while the meeting was “accurately reported” and newsworthy, the report had fallen short of some standards.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese talks to the media in Alice Springs on January 24. Credit:Kate Geraghty
“ABC News apologises to audiences for providing an incomplete picture of the event in this instance,” the ABC said. “Over the course of the day, the coverage included information and perspectives that provided a balanced understanding of the event, including additional comments from the meeting and further context regarding allegations of racism. ABC News stands by its journalists covering this story.”
The report will remain online with an editor’s note and links to coverage that can provide more context. The editor’s note said the report should have included more perspectives from the meeting. “ABC News management takes responsibility,” the note said. The ABC’s news division is led by Justin Stevens, who was appointed last March.
The apology contrasted a previous statement from the ABC posted on Wednesday which did not apologise for the coverage but said one report included “interviews with attendees as they left the meeting. Their comments were accurately quoted.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has pledged to respond as soon as possible to the alcohol-fuelled social emergency in Alice Springs. He visited the town on January 24 amid a growing crime crisis and appointed a Central Australian regional controller, Dorrelle Anderson, to report to the federal and territory governments about the best options for addressing the situation and on whether alcohol bans with opt-out provisions should be reinstated.
Anderson handed the territory and federal governments a report on Thursday which examined whether to permanently enforce alcohol bans that were temporarily imposed. The findings of the report are not yet public.
Albanese said the report would be released by the NT government after cabinet consideration.
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