ABC use of think tanks
Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications
Answers to Senate Estimates Questions on Notice
Supplementary Budget Estimates Hearings October 2011
Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Portfolio
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Question No: 143
Program No. ABC
Hansard Ref: Page 87
Topic: Evaluation Processes Around Think Tanks
Senator Ludlam asked:
I am worried about representing particular corporate interests and then not disclosing that. If the IPA, for example, comes to the ABC with a piece that is quite clearly advocating for a particular corporate position, do you go back to them or is that ever identified?
Generally speaking, it is a relevant and important part of the journalistic process to identify the funding source of any piece of research, as it may well have an impact on the independence and the credibility of that research.
Think tanks, for example, may be funded by public money, private donation, union or other organisational funding or corporate funding or sponsorship. Additionally, the think tank may be funded by a wide range of sources, some of which may be fully disclosed and some of which may not. In such cases, it can be difficult to establish any direct link between a particular piece of research and the general, diversified funding base of an organisation.
Where there is good reason to believe that a particular piece of research by a particular think tank or other organisation is in some way influenced by a specific funding source, it is incumbent upon ABC journalists to make enquiries and investigations to verify or otherwise dispel such a link.
Otherwise, the normal approach would be to attribute research to its source, whether that source be a think tank or any other organisation, and allow the audience to assess that information for themselves.
Authorised and printed by Christine Milne, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600