ABC is closing The Drum website from Monday.
The site was launched in 2010 with opinion and analysis, including external contributors.
The TV edition hosted by Julia Baird will remain.
ABC Director of News Gaven Morris advised staff today:
Going beyond the headlines to give audiences a deeper understanding of stories has always been a vital element of what ABC News does. Currently we are reworking how we approach this type of content on our digital platforms, shifting our emphasis from traditional opinion writing towards providing more of the essential context and analysis audiences need in order to fully understand and interpret the major stories and important issues.
As part of that, from Monday we are discontinuing The Drum as our online brand for analysis and opinion.
The Drum has been a successful initiative for ABC News as a forum for commentary and debate, but as our digital audiences continue to grow and develop, and we continue to manage tight resources, it’s time for us to do this type of content in a different way. An analysis and opinion page will remain on the ABC News site and there are no redundancies as a result of this change. However, The Drum Editor Chip Rolley has taken the decision to leave the ABC when his current contract expires.
ABC News launched The Drum site in December 2009 under founding editor Jonathan Green as our online opinion brand, incorporating the former site ABC Unleashed. From the beginning The Drum carved out a successful niche. In July 2010 it spawned the television program of the same name, which will continue unchanged. In August 2012 Chip took over as editor. Ending The Drum as our online brand in no way reflects on its quality. The excellence of its work is shown in its strong audience numbers and its loyal following.
We remain committed to providing the best news analysis for our audiences. ABC contributors such as Annabel Crabb, Barrie Cassidy and Ian Verrender will continue to write for us and we’ll also still have the capacity to invite in external writers. ABC News is also exploring opportunities to work with community and academic partners to offer more analysis. We are keen to provide all Australians with a digital home for Australian politics and policy, and I’ll have more to say on that in the weeks ahead.
Today, though, I want to pay tribute to The Drum online and to everyone who has worked on it and contributed to it, most recently Chip and his team. It’s a pathsetter at the ABC and we now aim to build on its great work.
Speaking at a Friends of ABC event in Melbourne last month, former Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes noted that since ABC News had expanded in recent years it had become a commercial threat to rivals including News Corp.