Following the genuine support and concerns raised by members of Sydney Writers’ Circle about the repercussions of political attacks being made on the ABC – our national public radio, TV and online network – Sydney School of Arts & Humanities received more than a few ‘ratbag’ comments on Facebook from people who know very little about the subject.
To think that business is encouraged to pay for FB promotions, but venturing into the depths of unruly public debate there can unfortunately have obscene consequences. This little incident has made me think again about actually paying FB to provide a forum which can be taken over by people who want to project their ignorant hatred (especially in capital letters, as if they’re shouting).
So, I put the question of what role the ABC plays for some of our members in last week’s meet up groups for a 5-minute writing exercise, and you can read a couple of our writers’ articulate responses below. Sadly, funding cuts to the ABC are already taking their toll.
I grew up with the ABC. While my friends watched Nickelodean, I met characters from the Commonwealth. No cartoons, just human flesh.
In the car, Dad always tuned to Classic FM. I knew all the presenters by name and was shocked when, at 15, I got to know them by face as well – the posters hanging in the ABC studios had little relation to the people I’d imagined.
Ironically, it was because of the ABC that I became a volunteer at their competition station. Inspired by the presenters, lured by their knowing voices and quirky comments, I trained to ‘speak’ at 2MBS FM. So what do I get from the ABC? Well, these days I get compliments. So disappointed are patrons in their stalwart that they write to us about how we’ve filled the void.
Three years on, I still feel guilty.
ABC Radio has long become part of my life. It’s an age thing. I’m not a great listener to music – although I don’t dislike it – but wall to wall news, comment, comment on the news, comment on the comment, has become my auditory therapy. I don’t like silence. I like someone with me and ABC Radio is my good friend. While there is no such thing as unbiased media, the ABC is the closest medium available which feeds me relatively objective information.
If I do have one concern, it’s when listeners are invited to call in. First, I think it’s lazy journalism when content is short but, to be fair, it’s probably more to do with government budget cuts. Second, the average age of callers appears to be in the death-approaching percentile. But sadly that could be me. Maybe one day I’ll make a call.
In her absence, Helena Ameisen, who’s a regular and committed writer in our meet ups, emailed a comment which she added to the last SSOA blog. In case you missed it there, I’ll add it here for good measure.
The ABC provides essential news on arts, culture, music, community, diversity, politics – here and abroad – and is a source of exceptional documentaries and thought-provoking panel discussions.
Unfortunately, greed exceeds the need to be entertained and informed.
I’m sure this has a lot to do with the role of advertising and the profit it generates … it is the government’s policies that need to be readdressed, not privatisation of the ABC!
Copyright Sydney School of Arts & Humanities.