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Engagement, Conversation and News: ABC News Director Kate Torney Speaks

We have some hints as to how the new ABC op ed site, to be edited by Crikey editor Jonathan Green, will fit within Auntie’s emerging new media vision.

Two weeks ago, the ABC’s Director of News, Kate Torney, was interviewed by Peter Clarke for the Inside Story podcast. Listen here.

It’s a long interview, and of course was conducted before the announcement of the new site. However, with hindsight it is possible to see how the new ABC presence has been conceived. Torney talks about the way social media can be used by news journalists. She talks about the new imperative of engagement between reporters and audience, and the way in which in the future, the truth might emerge through the conversation with the ABC’s audience as well as through professional news reporting. She also talks about the need to maintain the quality and reliability of the news reporting.  “It’s horses for courses,” she says.

She talks about the ways in which ABC people such as Leigh Sales and Mark Colvin have used their Twitter presences to build a persona and a new relationship with audiences, and about the importance of experimentation and trying new formats “just to see if there is an appetite for a new way of digesting news”.

There are also reflections on the challenge of getting the tone right for online – rather than merely replicating what is available through broadcast and print.

For those wondering why the ABC doesn’t seem to break big stories any more, she says she thinks ABC newsrooms should be well placed to ignore what is on the front page of newspapers, and approach a different kind of news making. She asserts that around the nation the organisation does break news on a daily basis, but don’t necessarily make the national agenda. Online will allow the organisation to be more confident and assertive in making this point.

She responds to criticisms of the ABC’s international plans and Managing Director Mark Scott’s “soft diplomacy” pitch for more government funding.

She also has some advice for those who are designing journalism courses.  (Declaration: my project in designing a new journalism course at Swinburne University gets a mention by Clarke.)

At the end, she is asked for her Twitter name, and refuses to give it. She is on Twitter, but  “I am anonymous. I am an observer.”

As Ray Martin might say, hmmm.

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  • 1
    Renai LeMay
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like Kate really “gets it”. It will be fantastic to see the ABC taking more of a role in the evolving online discussion area. Like many organisations, they have some fantastic content and talent — it’s just a matter of being able to surface it in the way that readers will respond well to.

    Particularly like this idea:

    “She talks about the new imperative of engagement between reporters and audience, and the way in which in the future, the truth might emerge through the conversation with the ABC’s audience as well as through professional news reporting.”

    I’ve been enjoying the ABC’s Unleashed site and look forward to more good stuff!

    Renai LeMay
    News Editor
    ZDNet.com.au
    http://www.twitter.com/renailemay

2 Trackbacks

  1. ...] the original post: Engagement, Conversation and News: ABC News Director Kate Torney … This entry is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 [...

  2. ...] a radio interview with ABC News Director Kate Torney on Inside Story from around the same time, as Margaret Simons has pointed out. Worth checking out to get more sense of the specifics of how newsrooms are [...

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