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The ABC Just Became "A Sick Version Of The Hunger Games”

Journalists given four weeks to achieve a higher “score” and keep jobs.

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Dan Peled / AAP

SYDNEY – Australian Broadcasting Corporation management came under fire on Monday for pitting journalists against each other to fight for jobs, in what staff have internally called “a sick version of The Hunger Games”.

BuzzFeed News has obtained documents showing the public broadcaster has put reporters into competitive "pools" and asked them to prove their "merit" to the organisation, challenged to hit benchmarks against their colleagues, or face the sack.

The ABC launched the radical process after Managing Director Mark Scott announced 400 people would lose their jobs following the Government's strident budget cuts.

"The morale right now? Zero," one ABC News Sydney reporter told BuzzFeed.

"People knew cuts were coming but we had no idea how bad it would be or that managers would be this sociopathic."

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Five regional newsrooms will shut and TV production is being scaled back. An even more brutal fate awaits 100 news reporters the ABC has announced it will cut.

ABC sources have told BuzzFeed News the dramatic events began shortly after Scott's speech to staff on Monday morning, with emails arriving in reporters inboxes telling them they had been placed in "pools" based on salary and expertise.

Each pool then had its own meeting and were told that members would be assessed against each other in a four week personal "skills audit". They would then be given, as one manager referred it: "a score on a ladder".

A sheet of paper was also tabled showing some of the benchmarks that could get a journalist a better "score", including being able to file stories to online, TV and radio.

Some within the organisation are joking that senior reporters should quickly learn how to tweet while simultaneously reading the news, or they will be fired.

At a Sydney meeting, 25 senior broadcast reporters were told that six among them would be sacked. In South Australia, 16 editors were told that five of them would go. The most brutal cuts appear to fall on the nationwide current affairs unit, where managers told a meeting of four junior producers they would be fighting for just one job.

ABC news and caff staff taken into small groups and given grim news: six of 25 reporters to go, five of 13 producers ... what a bleak day

Adam Harvey@adharvesFollow

ABC news and caff staff taken into small groups and given grim news: six of 25 reporters to go, five of 13 producers ... what a bleak day

5:02 PM - 24 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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"They are creating a culture of fear, pitting person against person, friend against friend and it's insane," one reporter told BuzzFeed News.

"I spent my entire meeting trying to work out if my score would be higher than the person sitting next to me, who is a close friend."

One senior reporter asked not to be included in the arduous four week "audit" and instead asked for a redundancy. He was rebuffed by his manager and told he would be participating.

4 weeks till 6 out of 25 senior journos hear their fate. Not sure why we weren't told today. #abccuts

brigid glanville@brigidglanvilleFollow

4 weeks till 6 out of 25 senior journos hear their fate. Not sure why we weren't told today. #abccuts

4:56 PM - 24 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

ABC management rejected staff criticism of the process, telling BuzzFeed News it is designed to keep those who have skills the organisation most needs.

"No process of this kind can ever be pleasant," said a spokeswoman for ABC News and Current Affairs.

"This [process] has been designed to be as fair, objective and transparent as possible. People have the right to ask that any decision be reviewed."

The mini tournaments will take place in every state newsroom over the next four weeks: with only the winners surviving beyond Christmas.

@JezNews @jessradio no, this feels like the funeral. The wake usually has a few laughs and an element of celebration at least.

Leigh Sales@leighsalesFollow

@JezNews @jessradio no, this feels like the funeral. The wake usually has a few laughs and an element of celebration at least.

9:02 PM - 24 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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