You’ve often come across the charge that ABC news and current affairs programs are being made by ‘activists’ rather than ‘reporters’. Since 1917 the word ‘activist’ has meant someone who ‘advocates or engages in action, specifically that undertakes vigorous political or social campaigning’ (OED). So what makes a person an ‘activist’ is campaigning. Does the ABC run campaigns? Ask George Pell or Christian Porter, I suspect they know the answer.
‘Reporter’, on the other hand, is an even older word, recorded from 1400. Long before the coming of the news business it meant simply ‘a person who gives or brings back an account of an event, situation, or fact’ (OED). What has been lost in the ABC (and too much of the media these days) is the old skill of ‘reporting’—conveying untarnished facts without any spin, so the consumers can make up their own minds. Linguistically the case is clear: reporting has been sacrificed to activism—as any Guardian, Nine newspaper or ABC staffer would quickly discover if they tried to question climate hysteria.
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