05 Nov 2009
By David Quilty

Congratulations to the ABC

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Looking at the title of this post let me reassure those of you who know me, I have not gone stark raving mad.   Today, at the Media 140 Conference in Sydney, the ABC publicly released its policy in relation to its staff use of social media.

I genuinely believe that Mark Scott, the Managing Director of the ABC, deserves congratulations for this policy. Like Telstra, the ABC is in the media business and guiding staff engagement online can be a tricky issue.

For those who follow this area closely, Telstra took the somewhat ground-breaking decision last April to release its social media guidelines (Telstra’s 3Rs of Social Media Engagement – PDF) to the public and to encourage feedback.  Mr Scott has also gone public with the national broadcaster’s social media policy. A bit risky, but well worth the risk if Telstra’s experience is anything to go by.

The one thing I have learnt about social media is that it pays to be upfront and transparent.  Not everyone agreed with our 3Rs social media policy, but there was a genuine appreciation of the fact that Telstra was willing to subject it to outside scrutiny.

I also think that Mark Scott has got the balance pretty right between protecting the ABC’s hard-earned reputation and encouraging ABC staff to be active users of social media.   For those who recall, Telstra took a similar position with its 3Rs policy – the 3Rs are representation, responsibility and respect.

Telstra’s policy requires our staff to identify who they are when they talk about Telstra and to make clear that they are making their comments in a personal capacity rather that in an official company capacity.   It requires staff not to divulge confidential company information or to act in a way that could bring the Telstra into disrepute.   It also requires them to be respectful of the rules and mores of the socal media communities in which they are engaging.

Importantly – and I am glad the ABC has also seen fit to take a similar position – the Telstra sensible use policy does not prohibit staff from using online media during work time; rather it makes clear that this personal use should not adversely impact on employees’ ability to get their job done.

I have no idea whether ABC management used Telstra’s 3Rs policy as any sort of corporate sounding board.   I certainly don’t mind and I’d be flattered if they have.   Regardless, the ABC’s social media policy seems to get the balance right.   And just like Telstra, I am sure the ABC’s policy will receive a range of both barbs and bouquets – and that is also the way it should be.


Posts: 10


  1. Turlough says:


    It is interesting to hear that the ABC is moving into the web2.0 world in a serious way.

    There needs to be a balance too between those in corporations who want to be active contributors (who bring their own view points on topics within their knowledge or interest), with disclosure of topics that are not dealt with by the active contributors.

    My question then is how do we draw the wider internal community into the blogosphere? It’s a brave new world for many corporate folks.

    Great to see the Exchange site up and running – well done.


  2. Rosie M says:

    Interesting to read about the ABC’s approach to increasing its online engagement and the employee policy … this feature from ABC political correspondent Lyndal Curtis nicely brings it to life … it’s a great read. Like Lyndal “I marvel at people who can twitter during their day and at night, finding interesting tidbits to pass on ….” I never can. More salient, she writes of the “worry that in the rush to social media, in the advocacy for the new way of communicating” that people are also missing out and voices are not being heard. She’s right – communicators have to use many platforms to communicate and – yes – we should figure out how to embrace social media without excluding either groups of people or tracts of opinion.

  3. Bill says:

    The ABC is a disgrace to Australians and an embarrassment to Australian.

    Its programming is getting to be very base when it should be setting a good example to its citizens. Look at “The Chaser”, can be very funny I know, but should it be on the National Broadcaster?

    Its political bias is bordering on criminal.
    Now that I have Foxtel and can watch A-PAC (Australian Public Affairs Channel) and I can also look at firsthand news on the net I can see the ABC TV’s bias.

    I watched a session on A-PAC and then saw the same item on the ABC TV news that night – it was completely twisted!

    The ABC TV’s political bias is blatant and disturbing (that’s from me, a Labor Party voter – but not any more).

    Looking back on the past, any attacks they make are usually directed to the Conservative side.

    It appears that to work at the ABC you need to be a member of the Labor Party.

    My view is this:
    I think that if the ABC want to continue as they are, then they should be privatised (then they can broadcast whatever they like).
    We should then set up an unbiased National Broadcaster to report the facts.

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