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The real problem with the ABC: ‘They did not produce accurate and impartial journalism’

The chaos surrounding the ABC has seen chairman Justin Milne resign just days after managing director Michelle Guthrie was sacked by the board halfway through her five-year term.

Mr Milne has been facing immense pressure over allegations he pressured Ms Guthrie to fire high-profile journalists, following government complaints.

The then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised concerns about the accuracy of some reports but denies he called for resignations.

A former member of the ABC board and columnist with The Australian Janet Albrechtsen tells Deborah Knight Mr Milne “certainly did need to go”.

“The ABC has two core purposes. One is to be an independent organisation, independent of government.

“The other one is to produce news and information that is accurate and impartial.”

Ms Albrechtsen says the ABC has failed “on both those fronts” and the issue facing Mr Milne was he stepped in “because the government didn’t like it” when he should have been acting “as chairman of an independent media organisation”.

“Don’t forget that both Andrew Probyn and Emma Alberici did the wrong thing.

“They did not produce accurate and impartial journalism, so that does need to be dealt with going forward.”

While the issue of ABC’s reporting standards needs to be examined, Ms Albrechtsen believes the ABC faces another problem.

“Yes the chairman has gone, yes the managing director has gone… what we’re left with is a very weak board that only reacted today… because of outside pressure.

“They did not act last week when they should have acted as a board of an independent organisation concerned about its reputation.”

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Deborah Knight