Leigh Sales has backed the ABC’s jobs bloodbath, claiming ‘it’s change or death’ in the rapidly-evolving media landscape.
The Australian Story host, who presented current affairs program 7.30 for more than a decade, said she believes her job is safe for now – despite 120 colleagues being made redundant next month in a major overhaul at the national broadcaster.
One of the high-profile names to be shown the door last week was the ABC’s political editor Andrew Probyn, which sparked an outcry.
Leigh Sales (pictured) has backed the ABC’s jobs bloodbath, claiming ‘it’s change or death’ in the rapidly-evolving media landscape
ABC’s political editor Andrew Probyn (pictured) was on of 120 staff to lose their jobs at the national broadcaster
‘The ABC says it doesn’t need a political editor so it’s making the role redundant? What an utter f***ing embarrassment for a national broadcaster,’ tweeted Channel Ten’s former political editor Peter van Onselen after the news broke.
But now legendary ABC journalist Leigh Sales has given her support to the mass lay-offs.
She said she had witnessed ABC staff being made redundant in the past and said it was ‘always upsetting’.
‘But the reality is that I know the way I consume media has changed so drastically – I don’t watch anything now on a schedule, I literally timeshift every single thing that I watch,’ Sales told Nine newspapers.
Sales, former host of 7.30, said she thought her job presenting ABC TV’s weekly documentary series Australian Story would be safe
‘So, I just accept the reality that things are different now, and we have to keep adapting and evolving and changing if we want to remain relevant to the audience. So while it’s always sad to see things change – and change is always hard – it’s change or death basically in the media landscape.’
Sales said she thinks her job will be unaffected by the sweeping changes at the ABC.
‘I think it (my role) will stay the same, but you just never know,’ she said.
‘I haven’t heard any different.’
Sales was earning $280,400 a year back in 2017 and her salary may well have grown since then.
Sales was nominated today for a Gold Logie for her time helming 7.30, which is now hosted by Sarah Ferguson.
The large-scale redundancies come a few months after Laura Tingle was voted in as the staff-elected director of the ABC’s board.
Tingle, 7.30’s chief political correspondent, campaigned on providing staff with a stronger independent voice.
7.30’s chief political correspondent Laura Tingle (pictured) and around two dozen other journalists will retain their jobs in the ABC’s Canberra bureau
‘The job of the board is to scrutinise decisions management are taking which affect both the corporation as a whole but also, obviously, the staff,’ said Tingle when she announced her candidacy.
It is understood Tingle and around two dozen political reporters will retrain their roles in the Canberra bureau, including other senior journalists such as David Speers, Greg Jennett and Nour Haydar.
Tingle has not yet spoken publicly about the redundancies.
Last week, Probyn said he struggled to see the rationale behind removing the role of political editor.
‘I struggle to understand the direction the ABC is going in that it could consider the role of political editor not needed,’ he told the Australian Financial Review.
ABC managing director David Anderson said the national broadcaster needs to focus more on digital to better serve its audiences.
‘The ABC will enhance its primary digital products, ABC News, ABC iview and ABC listen, to provide a seamless, personalised service that enables audiences to more easily discover content that is relevant to them,’ he said two weeks ago while unveiling the ABC’s new five-year plan.
However, there have been reports that Probyn was sacked because of disputes with bosses over a beer fridge and coverage of Lidia Thorpe’s bikie ex-boyfriend.
Other changes at the ABC will see state news bulletins on Sunday night being replaced with one national bulletin.
The organisation’s two most senior arts journalists will also be made redundant.