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This Journalist Says The ABC Censored His NBN Reporting

Former ABC tech editor Nick Ross says he was gagged by his boss to appease the government.

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Former ABC Technology and Games editor Nick Ross has resigned from his role at the national broadcaster, claiming that his reporting on the National Broadband Network had been "gagged" by management.

Twitter: @NickRossTech

Announcing his departure on Twitter on Thursday, Ross said "I can potentially write about NBN again."

His allegation that the ABC had stopped him from writing about the government's costly infrastructure project lit up social media, and prompted Ross to hold a question and answer session on Reddit on Friday.

Nick Ross has resigned from the ABC and we are not in a position to make any specific comment about his situation or circumstances other than to wish him well. He was a valued and respected staff member.The ABC does not "gag" the coverage of any issues or topics of public importance. As our record makes clear, the ABC covers all issues of public importance thoroughly and independently.The only "restrictions" on the issues the ABC covers and the way we cover them are our Editorial Policies, which set standards for things like accuracy, impartiality and fair dealing. All of our journalism is required to adhere to these standards at all times.

First, some background: Ross was hired by the ABC in 2010 to head up a new portal for technology and gaming, which had little editorial oversight. Trouble started in 2013, when he wrote articles which were very critical of the Coalition's NBN policy.

abc.net.au

He got a slap over the wrist from management and other media outlets and politicians criticised his NBN articles for being biased and breaching ABC editorial policies. The ABC's MediaWatch program ran a story on it, concluding that his work was well-researched but crossed the line from reporting into public advocacy.

Nick Ross even got into a Twitter stoush with then opposition communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull, who accused the journalist of running "relentless NBN propaganda".

Twitter: @TurnbullMalcolm

After that, there was little to no coverage of the NBN on the technology portal, which many people saw as a cover-up.

Now, the address for the tech portal re-directs to a section on the news website, which the ABC says is part of a consolidation of a number of different ABC websites.

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In his Reddit AMA, Nick Ross accused senior ABC management of censoring his reporting because they did not want to get Malcolm Turnbull offside.

Moar AMA proof for the AMA admins. PS @TwitterAU can I have my Blue Tick back as I need it at the moment, please?!

"In early March 2013 I was told by a senior ABC manager that ABC Management was expecting the Liberals to win the next election and that Malcolm Turnbull would be in charge of the ABC and that they didn't want to upset him. From this point on I documented everything," he wrote.

I knew when I was told to stop publishing on the NBN (three years ago) that this day would be inevitable. It's been a constant source of amazement that management have acted like people wouldn't notice me going from full-on NBN coverage to absolute zero and not ask why. They've been asking me constantly throughout this time - such is the interest in ABC and NBN - to the point where it's literaly made me ill and I'm still recovering. I hope this will start drawing a line under things and let me move on, but let's face it, the stink caused here will linger.

And because it's Reddit, the dank NBN memes started rolling in.

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While others following the AMA on Twitter were a little more incredulous about his claims.

that AMA with the Nick Ross about the NBN CONSPIRACY COVERUP is straight up the most excruciating thing

it's an internet technology not the bombing of cambodia ffs brave lmfao

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A spokesperson for the ABC told BuzzFeed News that Ross received several warnings about his tone of reporting. "Nick was told repeatedly, 'don't be an advocate be a reporter'," she said.

Scott Barbour / Getty Images

"The advice Mr Ross received was that, as with all other topics, coverage of the NBN issue required adherence to ABC Editorial Policies, which require appropriately reflecting all major points of view," the spokesperson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.

"As is normal editorial practice with all coverage of all significant issues, Mr Ross was expected to upwardly refer anything controversial.

The ABC claims Ross was invited to write about the NBN on other platforms, but he turned it down.

"After the ABC's funding cuts last year, when it became clear that the technology portal was to be closed along with a number of other portals and web sites, Mr Ross was invited to contribute to our business coverage, including on NBN issues. He declined to do so."

BuzzFeed News has contacted Nick Ross for comment.

Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Alex Lee at alexandra.lee@buzzfeed.com.

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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