ABC warned: Be impartial on marriage coverage

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The ABC has reminded its staff to be impartial on coverage of the marriage plebiscite. 

The Australian reported today that ABC News Editorial Policy Manager Mark Maley emailed the warning to staff after Senator Zed Seselja said the ABC had contravened its charter and been unfair in its coverage on the issue.

From The Australian:

“The preferred terminology is same-sex marriage, rather than ‘marriage equality’ or ‘gay marriage,” wrote Mr Maley.

“Some people will inevitably be offended by arguments and statements made by both sides. That cannot be avoided and we should not censor any debate conducted in good faith."

“However, the editorial policies also state that we should not offend our audiences without editorial justification and we should not be seen to condone or encourage prejudice and discrimination.

“To the greatest extent possible we should be facilitating a vigorous but also civil debate. If you think any content may cross the line don’t hesitate to seek advice from your manager or from me.”

Senator Seselja earlier suggested there had been “a lot of censorship” of those arguing against changing the Marriage Act from the ABC.

“Media Watch has commented that even the ABC, who are tasked with being fair in their charter, haven’t actually been fair on this issue and haven’t equally given both sides an airing,” he said.

“Please remember that approximately 40% of the population opposes the change and more importantly that the ABC does not have a position on the issue,” Mr Maley wrote.

Speaking yesterday on ABC's Radio National Drive program, Marriage Alliance CEO Damian Wyld said many Australians have already faced legal threats and vilification for their genuine beliefs on marriage, and their stories "deserve a fair hearing".

You can listen to the full interview with Damian by clicking the following link - he is on from 7:19:

http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2017/08/rnd_20170809_1815.mp3

 

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