The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is intertwined with the Australian identity since the 1920s. For Australians living in regional and remote locations away from the bright city lights of capital cities the ABC had been the only constant media and information source until recently when commercial media stations invested on capturing this audience. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s in regional Western Australia, the ABC was the go to media outlet for information about the world outside of the town I was in. Sometimes there was no other media outlet.
It was the ABC that taught me about story telling with the broadcast of Sesame Street and Play School. It was also through these mediums that I got my first tastes of science. I did not know what it was at the time but I enjoyed finding out why things worked the way they did and how things could be categorised. All this during the formative years of my education and especially helpful when I was having to learn English at school on top of writing, reading, and mathematics. I don’t think I’m alone in growing up with the ABC.
Now the ABC is wanting our opinions on their science coverage. I don’t know of any other media outlet in Australia who wants to listen to the opinion of their audiences, let alone their audience’s opinion on science coverage. They are also asking for honest feedback. A few weeks ago I was invited to an ABC Community Science Forum in Perth to talk about just this in a room that included the ABC Advisory Council.
It was honest. People talked about the things that they liked and what they did not like about the ABC’s Science Coverage. We did not get much of a description of the event before the forum and I admit to being hesitant in attending. I was concerned about the process being more of a marketing ploy than a feedback session. By the end of the session I felt that it had been well worth attending and that I shared some of the concerns raised in the discussion. What I especially liked was that no member of the ABC staff came on the defensive when criticisms were aired by participants.
I turn to the ABC for so many things today, interviews with notable people of their field, documentaries, investigative journalism, and of course the latest news. What I adore is the coverage of science. It percolates through many things that the ABC programmes and I think this is unique and should be applauded. No other media outlet in Australia comes close to this. This is the only Australian media outlet that does not make a special case out of science except in the case of specialised science shows. The most notable example that I cannot get enough of at the moment is Conversations with Richard Fidler which brings a variety of people for interviewing. These people are all part of our community no matter what their day job may be.
There is dedicated science content on radio, television, and online and with this has come the invitation for the public to interact with the ABC. It has especially grown with the explosion of social media. With the Australian Curriculum being implemented across the nation, ABC has created ABC Splash which is a collection of multimedia resources for use in the classroom and also for young people to explore. It is in its infancy and still being fully fleshed out but yet again it is another example of how ABC is the only media outlet going it alone working to provide science content to the Australian public.
After 30 years of consuming products from the ABC, the act of inviting me to a feedback forum in an area I am passionate about has cemented the love I have for Australia’s public broadcaster. It demonstrates commitment in my pet area of interest and that they are not going to let their science coverage fall by the wayside. This is why I am also working on a written submission to the ABC Advisory Council, not because I want to see more science content but because they really are taking all opinions into consideration.
If you have an opinion about the ABC’s science coverage, let them know. They want to know about it.