“Sensitive” types at ABC, says Ita.

Ita Buttrose appeared at an Aussie Home Loans panel on Monday where she revealed some interesting insights.

Asked about leadership upheaval at the broadcaster over the past year, she noted such changes were usually unsettling for staff.

“Creative people, the kind of people who work at the ABC, are very sensitive people,” she said.

“You’ve got to understand that – that’s why they do the sort of things that they do.

“So they’re a little more fragile than some workers. They have to be patted a bit, and reassured that all is well,” Buttrose said.

I’m not so sure that kind of intel is particularly helpful to the cause.

She also revealed how PM Scott Morrison offered her the task of Chairing the ABC. She was in Canberra at the Australian of the Year awards when she was led into a room with ScoMo.

He quickly asked her if she would take on the role.

“Prime Minister, you’ve taken my breath away,” Buttrose recalled.

While she didn’t have to decide then, she was given the PM’s mobile and asked to get in touch the next week.

“I more or less decided right there and then. I thought I’d take it on,” she revealed.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian


  1. Ita is right that our media in general has a disproportionate level of “creative” types. It is just a fact of life that the arts attracts a certain personality type. Where this becomes a problem is when news outlets begin to believe that their world (inhabited by creatives) is typical of the rest of society – it isn’t. And then they are surprised when elections/votes etc don’t follow the script they expect.

    It isn’t necessarily wrong, they just need to accept that their world is not typical. Looks like Ita knows that.

  2. There are a lot more “sensitive” types in commercial media than at the ABC especially with all the outsourcing.
    A good manager knows which button to press, which ego to polish and which whim to pander to get the best results from creatives. Call them “talent”, “artistes”, “personalities” or whatever, their special treatment gets good outcomes.
    The “upstairs” tea ladies are called personal assistants.

  3. The ABC is a government funded bureaucracy it receives tax payer funding, I think some people tend to forget this, the rules that apply to managerial positions and staff employment will likely be similar to any other government department, so some employees will be constantly looking over their shoulders, feeling paranoid about the office competition is almost a full time occupation, especially if you have limited job flexibility and got your position because you fitted the ABC’s government employment criteria, you would be sensitive about your security, status and salary.

  4. Reading these comments I get the feeling some people have spent a bit too long online and not enough time in actual work places. The ABC is a modern office. There is no tea lady. The vast majority aren’t ‘precious’. Instead, what they might be is concerned that a new manager may have new ideas that mean they get sacked. The ABC has had a whole lot of change recently, like most in the media. Restructures are common. Job security is shaky. And in case anyone missed it, senior management has had a bad run over the last few years, despite the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on them. Those outside appointments were made by the Liberal Party (like Ita was), so maybe when they’re talking amongst themselves they prefer to claim that the workers are ‘precious’, rather than accepting criticism of them might relate to the fairly obviously bad calls that were made which hurt the ABC’s…

  5. thedirtydigger

    Yes I think a lot of the poor little dears at the ABC could be due for a harsh reality check. Pampered, political and privileged in their little Ultimo bubble most of them would wilt in the glare of commercial TV.

  6. I worked for one of the commercial networks for over 40 years, never did I see one person being precious, until, one day, I had to visit the ABC. I arrived at the station, ushered in by a doorman, what a laugh.
    Next we where shown to the lift to about, I think, the 4th floor. After exiting from the lift we walked past rows and rows of people sitting talking to each other, this was at about 10:30am. About 5 minutes later a “Tea Lady” with full apron, trolly, cakes, biscuits and china cups and saucers arrived, everyone on that floor was given a free morning tea. at their desk etc. Never did I see anyone at my place of work get a “Tea Lady”, except for the first years of TV, deliver a cup of tea in crockery, it was always a plastic cup with no biscuits etc.
    I think Ita, you have been hoodwinked by a few precious people, who would not last a second in a commercial situation.

  7. If they need to be “patted” and “reassured”, then they are not sensitive, they are narcissistic. And we shouldn’t be indulging such petulant indignation from grown adults, but unfortunately that sort of behaviour seems to be rampant across the industry, and people being “outraged” over every damned thing while championing immorality elsewhere.

  8. Umm seriously! They aren’t children, I thought we employed grown adults at the ABC. It does explain a few things though I suppose. I think they need to realise that if you have a job with the ABC you are incredibly fortunate, especially if you compare it to the private sector in the same industry. A dose of reality might cure them of their sensitivity.

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