‘It’s change or death’: Leigh Sales on ABC restructure

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ABC journalist Leigh Sales has backed the public broadcaster’s decision to restructure, arguing that it must continue to evolve to remain relevant to audiences, or risk death.

The organisation announced sweeping changes on Thursday, as a result of which, 120 jobs including that of national political editor Andrew Probyn will become redundant. State news bulletins on Sunday night will be replaced with one national bulletin, and the organisation’s two most senior arts journalists will be made redundant.

Leigh Sales has expressed support for the ABC’s decision to restructure.

Sales, who helmed the current affairs program 7.30 for over a decade and currently hosts Australian Story, said redundancies in any workplace were difficult, but an unfortunate reality.

“I’ve been at the ABC for a long time, so I’ve been through lots of periods of people being made redundant. It’s always really sad because you see good people go, so it’s always upsetting,” she said.

“But the reality is that I know the way I consume media has changed so drastically – I don’t watch anything now on a schedule, I literally timeshift every single thing that I watch. So, I just accept the reality that things are different now, and we have to keep adapting and evolving and changing if we want to remain relevant to the audience. So while it’s always sad to see things change – and change is always hard – it’s change or death basically in the media landscape.”

ABC managing director David Anderson justified the changes to staff in an email on Thursday as necessary for the broadcaster’s future, as the organisation needed to boost its investment in its digital transformation to meet the needs of its audiences.

Last week, Probyn himself said he struggled to understand the direction of the national broadcaster as it made his political editor role redundant.

“I struggle to understand the direction the ABC is going in that it could consider the role of political editor not needed,” he said at the time.

Sales was speaking on Monday morning, after being revealed as a nominee for the Gold Logie award, for most popular personality on Australian television.

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