Mark Scott, the ABC's (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) managing director since May 2006, is interviewed in The Weekend Australian Magazine by senior journalist Caroline Overington. Scott is 43 and possesses a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard as well as a Bachelor of Arts, a Diploma of Education and a Master of Arts from Sydney Uni.
He's been in the broadsheets as well this weekend, and was photographed with the boys from The Chaser's War on Everything, who he's obviously trying to keep at the ABC. He's mindful, as everyone is, that Kath & Kim defected to Channel Seven recently.
Overington bangs on about Scott's father and grandfather, as all the journos do. His forebears, like Scott himself, were bureaucrats. Big deal. It doesn't mean anything beyond a desire shared by all journalists to provide the complete picture. If Scott was from Bankstown instead of the north shore, it would be just as bad that he wants to "make changes and make choices" at the ABC which is, rightly, one of the most respected and admired institutions in the country.
So far, the debate has hinged mainly on whether he will introduce advertising on ABC Web sites. He's already said that no advertising will be run on the TV or radio arms. But dyed-in-the-wool ABCites like Stateline host Quentin Dempster don't trust Scott.
Neither do I. Apart from anything else, he's a Christian who, apparently, is one of "God's secret agents trying to bring the life and light of Jesus into one of the most hostile parts of our society, the media." The quote is from God Under Howard, a book by Marion Maddox, and the words were spoken by a Baptist minister.
Scott spent time at Fairfax reporting for The Sydney Morning Herald before being booted upstairs into management roles. His rhetoric shows us why: "We are looking at ways of maximising revenue, and of course we are conscious of protecting our reputation." Possibly he was just a bad reporter.
Paddy McGuiness, reporter and editor of staunchly conservative monthly Quadrant, wrote last year that Scott would change nothing. "The feminists, the gay-rights advocates, the ecumenical searchers for the meaning of life, the anti-Catholics ... the America-haters can rest secure."
What McGuiness doesn't realise is that it is because of these people that we admire and wish to maintain the autonomy of, the ABC. Scott has apparently been doing his best to stay on-side with staff, reports Overington. She hammers away at the advertising issue like a good journo should.
Dempster is to have a face-to-face meeting with Scott in the near future, it seems. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!