JRNL101: SBS Saga Splits Opinions

On the 26th of April 2015, SBS sports journalist, Scott McIntyre was dismissed from the broadcasting service, after posting a series of tweets on ANZAC Day.

During the course of ANZAC Day, McIntyre tweeted five times, to over 30,000 followers, criticizing Australia’s participation in a several wars.

SBS Managing Director, Michael Ebeid, and Director of Sport, Ken Shipp, stated that McIntyre had breached the station’s Code of Conduct and social media policy, Ebeid describing the tweets as “inappropriate and disrespectful”.

Like many journalism students, Hannah Anderson (23), has strong views concerning how SBS responded.

“I don’t think they should have fired him. He was a fantastic journalist and all he did was express his opinions. If his tweets hadn’t been the unpopular opinion, they would challenge ideas, and create conversation, and take a conversation to the next level.”

Seeking to become a photojournalist, Anderson acknowledges that there are serious concerns with her career choice.

“It’s a fine line between pushing and being interesting, and pushing being insulting.

“If you’re representing a company you have to be conscious of that. You have to be aware that your opinions may not necessarily that of the company.”

Monique Lombardo (18) shares Anderson’s opinion. As a journalism student hoping to make a career in entertainment, Lombardo can see how journalism is changing. She believes sacking McIntyre because his views were different was the worst decision that SBS could have made.

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Australia is a free country, and I’m sure lots of other people share his view. Yes, he was shamed for it, but it doesn’t make it any less true.”

However others felt McIntyre’s tweets were highly offensive, receiving serious criticism from many including Australia’s Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who regarded McIntyre’s comments as “despicable”, and Alex Debs (18) agrees.

“I think Scott McIntyre getting sacked was fair.” Said Debs.

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Aspiring political journalist, Robert Brady (19), reflects on the McIntyre controversy and what it means for the future of journalism.

“It was incredibly insensitive and he picked the wrong day to make such inappropriate comments. In saying that, in my opinion, SBS sacked him because it was easier to justify sacking him, than letting him keep his job. SBS is government-funded, so they mustn’t bite the hand that feeds them.” Debs laughed.

Since McIntyre’s dismissal, a statement has been filed with the Fair Work Commission, claiming that the SBS breached their policies and Code of Conduct. Section 351 of the Fair Work Act protects employees from adverse action by their employer (including sacking) if they express political opinion.

Robert Brady (19) is an aspiring political journalist, struggling to make sense of the drama. “He’s a sports journalist. I couldn’t care less about what [McIntyre] said about the ANZACs.

“He isn’t paid to comment on ANZAC tradition, it’s just a general opinion that he has. If I was his employer I don’t think I’d care too much, because I’ve hired him as a sports journalist.”

It is alleged SBS took action without a proper investigation and consideration of all relevant issues. However the network is unable to comment because the issue had now become a legal matter.

McIntyre’s tweets can be seen below:

Written by: Hannah Laxton

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