A difference of interpretation

June 28, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Recently, a contingent from The Executive Council of Australian Jewry met up with ABC’s managing director David Anderson to discuss coverage of the recent Israel-Palestinian conflict involving Gaza and the one-sided Q + A program that featured it.

The meeting was organised following a letter to the ABC which ‘complained of “a pervasive culture of bias, if not antipathy, towards Israel and the mainstream Australian Jewish community, within the unit responsible for organising and producing the Q + A program”.’

In a media release, the ECAJ stated: “During the course of a wide-ranging discussion, David Anderson readily acknowledged that the Q + A program and the ABC’s news and current affairs coverage of the conflict had contained “many errors” for which he apologised.  He also acknowledged the validity of the ECAJ’s earlier detailed critique of an “Explainer” document that had been published on the ABC website at the start of hostilities, before being corrected. That matter is still under investigation by the ABC complaints unit.

The meeting was held in a very positive spirit and Mr Anderson was keen to explore specific constructive steps to prevent a recurrence of the problems we raised and improve the quality of the ABC’s news coverage,” ECAJ President Jillian Segal said after the meeting. “Despite the obvious difficulties, we have secured a commitment for follow-up meetings and engagement with both key ABC staff and leadership, and have reason to hope for a productive outcome.”

But the ABC does not see the outcome of the meeting as the ECAJ does.

Following the publication of the ECAJ media release, ABC put one of their own.

It states: “The ABC’s position has been misrepresented by a statement issued today by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

The ABC agreed to meet with Jillian Segal, Peter Wertheim and Vic Alhadeff from the ECAJ to hear their concerns, raised in recent correspondence, regarding recent coverage of the conflict in Gaza.

In the meeting, the ABC acknowledged that additional context added to articles had improved understanding of the issues and a small number of minor errors, mostly around the nuance in the use of contested terms, had been included following the initial complaints. These had already been clarified and the articles are still available to ABC audiences.

The ABC has provided extensive coverage of the Israel/ Gaza conflict, unparalleled in the Australian media. The events have been covered to an outstanding standard and in the public interest. The ABC totally supports the reporting and analysis provided by its journalists.

There remain some complaints from both sides of the debate which are being investigated by the ABC’s Audience and Consumer Affairs. These are still to be concluded.

It is deeply disappointing how the meeting was characterised in the ECAJ statement. The ABC would like to be able to meet with any community representatives to hear any and all concerns in good faith in the future.

The ABC has also agreed to meet representatives from the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network.”

ECAJ President Jillian Segal and co-CEO Peter Wertheim with consultant Vic Alhadeff attended the meeting with David Anderson.

Jillian Segal and Peter Wertheim released another statement in which they said: “There is clearly a difference of interpretation concerning certain statements that were made during the discussion, which was conducted in good faith by all parties.

We stand by the accuracy of our report of the meeting. We remain focussed on continuing our dialogue with the organisation on the substantive issues which we discussed, and reiterate our willingness to work with the ABC to proceed with the constructive steps forward that were discussed at the meeting.”


3 Responses to “A difference of interpretation”
  1. David Eisenberg says:

    Once again the ABC is in denial about its journalists biased interpretation of events.
    It looks like our relatively small community is on its own.
    All the more reason to continue strong support of Israel as our one and only secure lifeline

  2. Marika Biber says:

    Could it be that the ABC’s Managing Director did not wish it to be made public that “……….David Anderson readily acknowledged that the Q + A program and the ABC’s news and current affairs coverage of the conflict had contained “many errors” for which he apologised. ……….” Did he apologise? did he agree that there were errors? does he also think that the ABC is biased and creates a division which leads to hostility and hatred between communities? After all, there are over 600.000 Muslims in Australia and the numbers have it! ABC needs to be defunded! All these talks are niceties which are made to look as if someone is doing…………what?

  3. DAVID SINGER says:

    How can the ECAJ and the ABC have such different takes on their meeting?

    The ABC claim that “The ABC’s position has been misrepresented by a statement issued today by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry” is a very serious unsubstantiated charge to make by the national broadcaster against the ECAJ leadership. The ABC needs to justify this derogatory statement with facts.

    An ECAJ detailed response setting out the specific complaints it made and the ABC’s response to those complaints is now urgently required.

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