ABC staff are rounding on ousted boss Michelle Guthrie

ABC Brisbane headquarters in South Bank. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.

  • Senior ABC journalists have welcomed the departure of Michelle Guthrie as MD of the national broadcaster. She was sacked by the board, with the decision announced this morning.
  • 4 Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour tweeted it was an “excellent decision” and broadcaster John Faine accused her of an “astonishing fail” in not championing the cause of the ABC more prominently.

The sudden departure of ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has been welcomed by key staff at the national broadcaster.

The ABC board, which appointed Guthrie 2.5 years ago during the reign of former chair James Spigelman, today sacked her halfway through her five year contract, with current chair Justin Milne saying “her leadership style was not the style that we needed going forward”.

The board is appointed by the federal government, with Milne, who is also chairman of MYOB and a former NBNCo director, chosen for the role by his friend and former PM Malcolm Turnbull last year.

In the wake of her firing, a two-word response by veteran ABC journalist and 4 Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour appeared to sum up the reaction of some senior staff at the ABC.

“Excellent decision,” she said.

Melbourne radio host Jon Faine, who’s been at the broadcast for nearly 30 years and three months ago attacked Guthrie saying he was “sick of getting it ripped apart because of the failure of our managers” and being “done over” by the government, this morning launched another attack on the departed MD saying her tenure had been an “astonishing fail”.

He accused Guthrie of being “obsessed” with platforms, structures and flowcharts while ignoring the “nuts and bolts” of public broadcasting and showing no interest in journalism.

She was given the benefit of the doubt, Faine said, and “most of us were excited … that a woman clearly on top of new media” was taking the helm.

On meeting her, Faine found her “very charming” and “clearly very smart”.

But after her first year as MD “it became clear she was only interested in a very small parts of what the organisation did”.

“She would not take on her role as a champion for this organisation. It’s an astonishing fail on her part,” he said.

“It’s been intense behind the scenes at this organisation. She’s been all but invisible. Every time you tried to get something from her, it was all jargon.”

Evening newsreader Juanita Phillips also weighed in on Twitter, saying: “Whoever the next MD is, they need a deep understanding of the history, purpose and importance of an independent public broadcaster, and be ready to fight bare-knuckled to protect it.”

Michelle Guthrie responded to the announcement of her sacking saying she was “devastated” and considering her legal options after ” the board’s decision to terminate my employment despite no claim of wrongdoing on my part.”

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