The ABC’s Fact Check unit will be closed as a result of budget cuts after only three years of operation.
Nic Christensen, media and technology editor at Mumbrella, believes this won’t have a huge effect on politician’s promises or the way the media reports them.
“We don’t need a service that solely checks facts,” Mr Christensen told The Newsroom.
“This won’t have a huge effect at all because [as journalists] we should be checking the facts for ourselves, it’s part of our job.”
Mr Christensen also thinks there doesn’t need to be a fact-checking team assembled for future election campaigns.
“We don’t need it before each election because the facts are being checked as part of the conversation being had. That is why it’s so important that we check facts before reporting them,” said Mr Christensen.
ABC News director Gavin Morris thanked the staff from the unit and made it clear this was not a reflection of the quality of work.
“This is a difficult time for us as a news team and it is particularly painful for our colleagues who are directly affected,” Mr Morris said.
“This proposed change in no way reflects on the quality of the ABC Fact Check team’s work.”
The ABC Fact Check team has conducted more than 400 fact checks since its time in operation without ever having to retract a finding, even if they have offended politicians. The unit was shortlisted for a Walkley Award in 2014.
The standalone fact-checking unit was created in 2013 through funding under the previous Labor government in an effort to hold politicians and other public figures accountable for their statements, comments and election promises.
The latest budget has cut the funding for the ABC from $60 million over three years to just over $40 million. There have been calls on social media for further donations to keep the unit operating.
— The Conversation (@ConversationEDU) June 20, 2016
“Unfortunately, having a standalone unit is no longer viable in the current climate,” said Mr Morris. – Paul Burns
Top Photo by James Mott