My short bio: I've been the ABC's Technology and Games Editor for the past five years. I left yesterday.

My Proof:

Why am I doing this? a) r/australia (and many others) have been asking me for over two years why I stopped writing about the NBN. I told them I'd answer when I left the ABC.

b) This brief Twitter exchange hit the front page of reddit, led to press coverage and so many questions from public, journos and pollies that it took me six hours just to go through my Twitter feed.

c) I've documented everything that happened to me for the past three years (as I saw which way things were heading even back then). There's a strong public interest element.

d) I don't want any other ABC journalists or employees to be pressured or put through what I've been put through over the past three years.

e) Ignore all the above, I'm actually just a bitter and disgruntled former employee ;)

please note There are somethings I can't say because they go against reddit rules and because they need to go through a media outlet with legal checking first. That will happen after this.

EDIT 1: Most of what's below is far from exhaustive and should not be used by any official entities (like Comcare) as thorough explanations of events.

EDIT 2: Two hours in. Having a 30 min break. Plenty to read in the meantime.

EDIT 3: Hi guys, it's been seven hours and I can barely see anymore. I think I've mentioned most things below and I hope people can chase them up. I've not looked at any other media or anything throughout this time. I understand there are a few stories out there already - many appeared as I was starting this and some still erroneously mention I was disciplined by the ABC when I wasn't (goddamit stop doing that!). I'll be popping in for more replies over the coming days but at a severely reduced rate. There will be some serious considered articles with the missing puzzle pieces appearing next week. To all the journos who have been trying to contact me, sorry I couldn't get back to you. Unless you're Media Watch in which case you can fuck right off.

Comments: 1255 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

r1nce444 karma

How far up the management chain does the blackout of the NBN reporting go?

teheditor348 karma

I've only ever dealt with one senior manager directly. Other names were mentioned by them but I'm not outing them on this forum without legal advice first - they could well have done nothing wrong.

Beyond that you've got what's in the public forum: specifically what Mark Scott told Senate Estimates in 2014 and 2015. I wasn't sure if Scott knew what I'd been told in 2014. I can tell you that when he told Estimates, in 2015, that they were looking at maybe closing the Technology and Games portal that I'd already been told it absolutely WAS closing. That was a few days beforehand.

vernand77 karma

Could you clarify where in the chain or management this senior manager was positioned, without going into specifics as per job title?

For instance, to use a colloquialism, would "the buck stop at them"? Or could they have potentially been getting their directions from a higher source? Would this have been a rogue senior manager making independent decisions, according to their beliefs?

teheditor141 karma

Doing so would identify them at once. It will be out soon in the media if it's not already.

inverted_visions41 karma

Are you able to say which office/department/politician(s) the gag order came from?

teheditor104 karma

I was told this by my manager. Labor were in power at the time.

teheditor253 karma

That fucking program has been the bane of my life for years. It could be used by Journalism Professors as an example of almost every dirty trick in the book for shitjournos to do a take down on someone.

What follows is my response to Media Watch taken from a dossier created a while ago. I've more info but this is the gist:

A senior ABC journalist said, “They send Media Watch after people they want silenced.” There’s no evidence of that here, but in the context of everything else, this needs to be addressed.

At a time where NBN coverage in the mainstream media and press had been absolutely toxic and wrought with lies for years, Media Watch finally addressed the NBN issue in just one episode. The entire episode focused on the ABC Technology Editor, one of very few journalists who was trying to inform the public of the facts. The episode was a total beat-up and exhibited some of the worst journalism to come from the ABC probably ever. But that’s not all:

According to MANAGER in a conversation with Nick Ross, Media Watch contacted MANAGER and told him something along the lines that Media Watch was doing a general episode on NBN coverage and that included looking at coverage on the ABC Technology site.

At the time, the site – which aggregates Technology content from all over the ABC network – was rife with media where Malcolm Turnbull had appeared and given his views almost unchallenged about the NBN. There were a few articles, however, from the ABC Technology site itself which went into the facts about the NBN. Belsham noted that there was no way that the site’s homepage looked biased one way or the other. Most of the “partisan” articles from other ABC programs heavily-pushed Turnbull’s point of view if anything.

However, on Monday 22 March 2013, Renai Le May phoned Nick Ross and told him that a Media Watch journalist, XXXXXXX, had called him and it had become clear that they were ‘out to get Nick.’ He had tried to talk her out of it but felt he needed to warn Nick. Here is the subsequent email exchange between the two that came from Renai:

-----Original Message----- From: Renai LeMay [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] Sent: Monday, 11 March 2013 9:56 AM To: Nick Ross Subject: Fwd: Nick's details + context etc

This is what I sent them. XXXXXX's mobile is xxxxxxxxxx, her email is xxxxxxxxxxxx.

---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Renai LeMay <xxxxxxxxxx> Date: Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 9:46 AM Subject: Nick's details + context etc To: XXXXXXXX <xxxxxxxxxxx>


great to speak with you this morning! Good to know Media Watch has some good people working for it :) I've been a fan of the show for a long time!

Nick's details are as follows:


He also has a personal email, xxxxxxx

In terms of background to the story, the broad view of my readers and others that I have spoken to in the technology industry is that the Opposition and segments of the media are waging a constant campaign of misinformation against the NBN in order to discredit it. The situation is not dissimilar to the climate change debate, where segments of politics and the media are constantly repeating inaccurate 'facts' despite evidence being against them.

In this context, Nick's articles represent an attempt to directly serve the community by 'correcting the record' and going back to basics to examine the real technical, financial and societal underpinnings of the NBN technology.

As with the climate change debate, however, unfortunately there is no evidence that some elements of the community will accept. This comparison has actually already popped up in the NBN debate -- see here:

Some examples of the Coalition's misstatements in this area:

I would encourage you to check out the following examples of articles in the mainstream media which have taken a strongly misleading approach to the NBN:

I strongly believe that Media Watch would be better served by investigating the other side of the story: Those criticising the NBN. Investigating Nick's articles is a bit like investigating scientists rather than climate change deniers ;)

I would also point out that the mass readership of sites such as Delimiter is strongly behind Nick and his approach. I've seen many examples where readers have debated the merits of trying to get Media Watch to cover the NBN criticism issue.

Please don't hesitate to drop me a line if you need further context etc.

Kind regards,


teheditor225 karma

Part 2.

However, Media Watch never contacted Nick to talk to him despite doing almost an entire episode about him.

After Renai’s call, Nick phoned XXXXXX who didn’t want to speak to him because, “She was going into a script meeting about tonight’s show.”

Nick pointed out that if they were doing a whole episode about him, that it would be sensible to talk to him first. Eventually she agreed, albeit unwillingly.

After half an hour of XXXX acting vague and difficult and Nick explaining that all he did was show the facts and draw a balanced conclusion while challenging people to contribute to either side, XXXX told Nick, “Oh yeah, you’re right, but it’s too late to change anything as we’re about to start filming tonight’s episode.”

And so it was that Media Watch went to air knowing that they were wrong – one of the worst things any journalist can ever do.

Full Episode link -

In the program, Media Watch:

  • Set the tech editor up as a mindless fanboy without providing any context for what he was doing. The entire episode was aimed at presenting him as someone who had done something wrong. They even showed a stupid picture of him with every quote.

  • Cherry picked social media quotes and article quotes going back two years (without telling the audience) trying to find dirt.

  • Cited a near-completely erroneous, Liberal-affiliated blog (Commsday), that slammed him, as actual evidence of wrongdoing without doing any fact checking or stating of the context whatsoever. Media Watch cited its existence as evidence that he’d done something wrong without quoting any of it beyond the headline.

  • They didn't point out that Nick's article had taken two years to research and had been professionally proofread by an expert (amongst others) and that the Commsday "article" had been bashed out in a matter of hours and virtually every point was already countered in Nick's original article.

  • They then lectured about the dangers of He Said She Said journalism having blatantly done just that. Holmes even acknowledged this when called on it while it aired on Twitter. “Fair point. Tweet follows RT @joshgnosis: #mediawatch resorted to he-said she-said reporting to determine whether the article was accurate.”

Joshgnosis – who is ZDNet reporter Joshua Taylor went on: “@jamesteajourno It didn’t assess the claims made in the article at all. Just used LeMay and Lynch’s views on the article.”

  • Having used every dirty underhanded tactic in the book and come up empty, they moved to their “smoking gun” quote. However, they didn’t tell the audience that it came from a different article altogether (buried in a caption).

The main article in question was:

The vast differences between the NBN and the Coalition's alternative

The article the quote from was:

The great NBN fail

It also was published 14 MONTHS earlier in a completely different context (without telling the audience). At the time the Coalition’s policy ran along the lines of ‘We don’t need an NBN because wireless is the future” – a policy so untenable and against the laws of physics that the Coalition themselves soon abandoned it.

But worst of all, Media Watch took the quote and removed the last part of it so that it meant the OPPOSITE of what was intended.

Here’s the quote as Media Watch displayed it [9mins 9secs]:

“If the public knew the truth about the NBN, and believed that the Coalition wanted to destroy it, then Labor would have an unassailable lead in the polls right now... I'm deadly serious.”

Here’s what it actually said:

“If the public knew the truth about the NBN, and believed that the Coalition wanted to destroy it, then Labor would have an unassailable lead in the polls right now and the National party would have ditched any association with the Liberals. I'm deadly serious. However, if the public and the Coalition knew all the facts, then the Coalition could not, in good conscience, oppose it.”

Nick's quote is a totally fair and balanced conclusion at the end of that article – one that, incidentally, despite drawing overwhelmingly-positive feedback, produced two notable criticisms from one Liberal supporter and one Labor supporter who accused it of being biased against the other because of the criticism doled out to both parties.

All of this was ignored and Holmes had his Gotcha. This is likely one of the worst cases of subjective (conclusion chasing) journalism on the entire ABC network.

Even then, Media Watch still couldn’t say that he’d done anything wrong, just broken an arbitrary internal policy but they made it sound like he was a biased journalist. At the end of the day Journalists are supposed to be advocates... for the balanced truth!

The seemingly mild criticism of someone who let his enthusiasm and passion get the best of him - was utterly damning to Nick.

Nick was essentially ostracized by his ABC colleagues after this. After getting requests for several radio and TV interviews per week this dropped to less than five per year.

The consequences to Nick were significant. He was told not to complain or even put forward his side of the story. He was consistently denied his right of reply by key ABC entities. Nick lost friends and even family members and peers thought he was too controversial to take seriously. It contributed to severe stress for Nick which even saw him hospitalised. He’s still on blood pressure medication.

He kept seeing comments on other articles on other sites like this but was unable to say anything in his own defence:

“Always worth bearing in mind when dealing with Nick Ross.”

But Josh Taylor’s comment in the previous Twitter stream is illustrative: “@jamesteajourno but, like I said to @jonaholmesMW, full points for assessing the article against ABC guidelines.”

Taylor and others have been on frosty terms with Ross ever since for, quite understandably, believing Media Watch’s lie.

After that episode, virtually all considered NBN coverage across the whole mainstream media stopped. The overwhelming media coverage left of the NBN continues to resemble Malcolm Turnbull media releases.

Indeed, all ABC employees are subject to an ABC policy that Media Watch can do what it likes with no oversight or right of reply and no obligation to even talk to their victim - just their manager.

In a later episode of Media Watch it was pointed out that Media Watch shouldn't be taken too seriously as it was just lighthearted fun.

I haven't been laughing I can promise you that.

Media Watch was also used by managers as a threat to not write anything to close to the bone. I had that done to me in an earlier expose a few years before.

I've had other friends who were lied about on Media Watch too and most journos have stories. I know many in the public likes it but they can be hypocritical, lying bullies at times. And its use as a tool to cow ABC journalists into not sticking their neck out does more harm to good journalism than good, in my humble opinion.

Also, I later saw a follow-up to the above in a response to my Comcare claim. The MW "journalist" who did the piece doesn't even think it was negative. They counter a few other points (badly) too but as Holmes did with me originally - they never address the fact they took a quote and shortened it to mean something else.

Farisr9k66 karma

You're much braver than me for even doing this AMA

teheditor211 karma

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.

Mr_Mac45 karma

Here is the official response from the ABC to QoN during 2015 Estimates

teheditor134 karma

FYI - Questions on Notice get sent to the Dept of Communications. The Dept then edits them as it sees fit and publishes whatever it wants. Just a small conflict of interest, no?

HairyBouy38 karma

Why do you think was the real reason they closed the portal?

teheditor177 karma

I'm going to cop enough grief just from stating facts today. I want to avoid speculating where possible. I'll try and give you as many facts as possible, but ultimately, if I don't have enough facts or information to draw a balanced conclusion, so I'll try and avoid (and most certainly fail later on) doing so.

flukus15 karma

Other names were mentioned by them but I'm not outing them on this forum without legal advice first - they could well have done nothing wrong

Have you got proof of this?

teheditor71 karma

No. And its hearsay anyway. I'd be interested in their views though. I might go seek them out. Ultimately, I was told very senior management in general with just a few names as examples.

arcynum75 karma

This is very interesting to me. I would like to know how much censorship is going on behind closed doors.

teheditor163 karma

I would too. The best outcome for me would be for other people to come forward. I can't and don't believe I'm the only one. But I also know all to well just what pressure and vindictive methods are used to defend core management... I've got it all documented after all. It's very unpleasant.

freonski26 karma

did you have the comfort of any support or solidarity within the organisation? from colleagues more broadly? did others within abc suffer similar situations of their integrity being compromised by unreasonable direction from above?

teheditor69 karma

A very small handful of people from within the organisation have reached out to me over the past three years and I appreciate it. The older guys knew "I'd been bullied."

Elsewhere, as I've said elsewhere, I lost friends/colleagues who thought I'd gone a bit too fanboy because of what had been written without response.

Let's not forget that I'm very different to most journos. I've just had a call from my mate Renai (checking I'm OK) but also reminding me that we've very different views on journalism in general. Which I've always known as we've had many beer-based discussions about it. We fundamentally disagree on some things. But that's fine.

I really don't know about other people. The unions would probably be a good bet to find out if it's widespread: CPSU and MEAA

OrionStar343 karma

Last week in r/Australia grebfar commented "If you've ever wondered what corruption looks like in Australia, this is it." To which you replied "Oh you have no idea. I wrote that article. Tell/ask me this again in a few days." Are you able to elaborate on this yet ?

teheditor196 karma

Look at his reply which came out yesterday after the Twitter stream happened. I don't really want to repeat all the answers I gave to questions yesterday on Twitter. But I'm sure we'll re-cover some old ground here.

Shunto130 karma

Where is the 'link for the lazy' person? It's free karma, someone do it! :(

The_Messeng3r410 karma

socially_reddited49 karma

Can't find shit in there. Please elaborate on corruption, even if you're just c+p'ing.

The_Messeng3r29 karma

Sorry, I've edited the link. My bad. See drfrogsplat's comment in the link.

teheditor46 karma

I don't think that's the right one. He said something about "He was wrong!" in response. Cant find it now.

The_Messeng3r107 karma

teheditor47 karma

Yeah that's it.

playswithf1re260 karma

Hi Nick. Thanks a million for doing this AMA.

  1. Australia's mainstream media outlets have all but ignored the political football of the NBN for far too long. Was the gag policy you were under something that applied to all journalists at the ABC?

  2. What was the involvement of the "dual employee" you hinted at on Twitter yesterday?

  3. Is (was?) that dual employee an employee of both the ABC and which other organisation?

  4. How do you feel about the ABC charter, and did the gagging order breach it?

  5. You've indicated on twitter that being gagged on this issue has affected your health. I hope that this this AMA session proves to be greatly beneficial for your physical and mental health. What health issues has it caused (aside from stress?)

Again, thanks a million for doing this.

teheditor221 karma

  1. I really don't know. I was the only Technology editor in the entire organisation. Noone else really covered it. However, when it came to doing the ABC's pre-election guides to party policies, the NBN one was done without me. It looks like it came from Malcolm Turnbull's office. When I spoke to the creator of it (I forget who) about the fact we'd posted something that we knew was untrue, he said the team had decided to go with a 'he said she said' line to avoid trouble.

A constant theme at the time was that, having been beaten up by The Australian and Media Watch and not allowed to defend myself, many people (especially colleagues) thought I'd done something wrong (they didn't hear otherwise) and tended to avoid me. So that was normal at that point.

teheditor175 karma

TWO. Sally Cray was hired from Malcolm Turnbull's office as the Head of ABC's Corporate Communications. Shortly after the election she returned to her old job as his Chief Policy Advisor. I think she was replaced by people from The Australia's media section.

I recently received the emails that Cray received and sent back to The Australian. This link contains commentary from another ABC entity regarding my subsequent Comcare claim and the original bullshit article from Page 3 of the Australian (where only my name is correct)

They really stood up for me didn't they? And apparently I was officially "reminded of ABC Editorial policies" because they told me via The Australian! I don't want any other ABC employee to be subject to that and so I'm drawing attention to it. Also, look what happens when instead of replying "No" to the question of "Was he disciplined" you skip round it. The commentary then goes on to say that the ABC has no influence over what's written in other media. Orly?

teheditor107 karma

FOUR. I'm not an expert but I'd be interested in what others think.

teheditor215 karma

FIVE. Thank you for those sentiments. In July 2013 it had become apparent that the fallout from Media Watch and The Australian (and Commsday and the response of other journalists in my field publicly goading me etc etc) - all without being able to defend myself - that I was incredibly tense and having huge problems sleeping. I was diagnosed with Hypertension by my GP (Stress and Anxiety). It was becoming clear that all my ABC colleagues were avoiding me (requests for me doing radio and TV slots dropped from several per week to several per year) and I could not mentally move past Media Watch's beat-up which has driven me to distraction virtually every single day for years.

It also hurt that I had huge NBN articles on Copper and Telehealth (over two years' research for each) that were (near)complete that I couldn't publish even though the public and politicians REALLY needed to know about them before the election - at least the Libs might change their tune if they knew about the state of the copper and enormous revolutionary benefits of telehealth. Amirite?

The stress continued for the subsequent two years and I was on meds for very high blood pressure. I was hospitalised with chest pains on one occasion and put on a Holter monitor for a day on another. Eventually I went to a Psychologist who helped me with techniques for dealing with stress.

But it didn't go away. I was unable to address the root causes and knew that one day it would all come out anyway - which I dreaded. In Feb 2015 I wrote this article (the first major one I'd done in ages). When it went viral I actually got panic attacks as I thought some pollie would complain and I'd be put through everything again.

All this time I respected what my boss had told me - to keep quiet and let the news cycle pass and you'll be alright. I'd also been repeatedly told throughout that time (by many entities) that I'd be phased into the main News online team at some point "soon."

So when I was told that funding was being cut to my Tech Site (several months ago - because "traffic") it was a total betrayal - I'd kept quiet to protect the ABC and management for years and damaged my health doing it.

I was given an impossible mission to stay on at the ABC (build a tech audience on the business site even though it had been made impossible on the tech site). I acted grateful but knew it was bullshit and contacted unions and lawyers and was told about Comcare. Unions also told me that this was how the ABC often managed people out - marginalise them.

Comcare is like Work Cover for the public service. It means I can get income insurance and support due to a work place injury without work admitting liability. Amongst many other things.

It's an enormously lengthy process but Comcare agreed that the ABC had injured me psychologically and sided with me. However, the ABC HR Dept has a person who spent much of the last few months of last year creating a dossier against me which went through all my emails and conversations etc for the past three years in an effort to show that the ABC hadn't injured me and that they'd been a good employer. The spin and lies and bullshit in this dossier (which I have a copy of and is hundreds of pages) is unbelievable. It included anecdotes which could only have come from my boss which transformed from being conversations into 'proof I was some maverick journo who wouldn't do what he was told'. This was incredibly stressful and my stress and anxiety ramped up further. Also, depression was creeping in to the mix too - I was regularly seeing my GP and getting a K10 psychological evaluation assessment each time. Anything over 20 is bad. I peaked at 38 before Christmas.

I also had an ABC caseworker assigned to me to help with Comcare. She was very nice and assured me I could tell her anything in strict confidence. Then I got another batch of bullshit from ABC HR via Comcare which included information which only three people at the ABC knew about. My caseworker had basically told the whole of HR (who had been working with my boss - and the information was mainly about him) and god knows who else and it was being used against me in my Comcare claim. When I asked her why she would do such a thing I got a letter from the Head of HR telling me not to contact my caseworker again - another would be assigned if needed.

So at this point I was in an impossible position. My reputation was harmed by what had been said about me publicly, I was now "extremely severely stressed," "extremely severely anxious" and now had "moderate depression" too. I was on strong blood pressure meds, I was being pushed into starting anti-depressants. I was waiting for Comcare to rule on the ABC's request for reconsideration, I'd been betrayed by my ABC caseworker and boss and the head of HR was covering it up. And then some. Just to rub things in I'd also got the emails sent to the whole ABC regarding how great Mental Health week had been at the ABC.

I started on the antidepressants which are horrible. The depression goes away but anxiety goes off the scale and there are other side effects like massive fatigue and being completely unable to concentrate. I was on them for about a month and came off them earlier this week and am starting to feel better for that. There's no way I could do this if I was still on them.

I'm still stressed and anxious but the depression looks like it's gone. Maybe it will come back with the fallout from this. But I'm starting to feel better now I've left.

unfortunate addendum The above is a very watered down (rapidly typed) version of events and any use of them as proof of something against me for official reasons like Comcare (as has happened before) should be avoided.

EDIT: Bugger me that's long. I've just been typing in a tiny text box and lost track of time.

piratesahoy206 karma

Can you offer a basic, high-level timeline of what's happened to you over the last three years? (With whatever redactions you feel are necessary!)

Edit: And what are you planning to do next?

teheditor400 karma

Feb 2013: Published The vast differences between the NBN and the Coalition's alternative

Feb/March 2013: Article starts going epic viral. Two weeks later The Project uses it to grill Turnbull on air. For once he seems very uncomfortable in a media interview about the NBN.

A few days later: The Australian suddenly publishes two articles about me. One erroneously saying I'd been disciplined by the ABC. Another from an "expert" saying why my article was wrong (laughably bullshit).

Next day: Stephen Conroy slamming Mark Scott for "gagging me" on Jon Faine radio show

Later that day: I meet with senior ABC manager who tells me to keep quiet, go home, and that ABC is preparing for Liberal government etc. Also some questions from Media Watch about content of site.

Following Monday: Media Watch beat-up appears. It's all about me. I'd been told it was about NBN coverage in the media in general.

April: Write article on how Liberal/Turnbull claims about how price of internet under Libs will be cheaper is factually incorrect. Told not to publish it because of the political environment. Article is never published.

May: Complete my Copper Network article (it was actually done in an earlier version in March). Told there's "nothing wrong with it per se" but that "the NBN is dead and there's no point in causing a fuss"

July 2013: Diagnosed with stress and getting ill from it.

Election: Emma Alberici finally publishes her NBN article. I publish mine on Copper and Telehealth

Following months: Almost all requests for other media (TV radio) have vanished. Daily news conference calls involve me telling News team about NBN stuff but that I can't cover it and perhaps someone else might like to. Only Science Editor and Environment Editor ask why.

2014: Vertigan and Ergas "reviews" appear. Can't cover them.

2015: Waiting to be absorbed into main News Online team.

Around July: Told ABC Tech site is closing and I'd need to build a tech audience with the Business Section to keep working.

I contact unions, legal people and Comcare. I also blow the whistle on what happened to me. Internal investigation occurs. Eventually says nothing wrong.

Christmas 2015: My time to build an audience with is over. I've been let down by Whistle Blowing people, my councillor, boss, Heda of HR and job is basically untenable. Get offered almost a year's salary to leave (I thought they had no money for a tech editor). Tried not to snap their arm off.

That's Extremely basic. It also should probably have Senate Estimates in there but ultimately while I was talked about I had no input.

jozzas204 karma

Can you explain the circumstances of your gagging? Who did the order(s) come from? Did you and your colleagues protest them?

teheditor357 karma

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.

After that I had articles held back (one wasn't published at all) and heavily pressured not to write anything on the matter.

On one occasion, four months before the election, with regards to this article which raised huge questions about the viability of the copper network I was told that "there was nothing wrong with the article per se" but that 'The NBN was dead and so there's no point in causing a fuss.'

I published it when I saw Emma Alberici had published hers right after the election. But it got buried and I only got social media traffic.

timix73 karma

Are you able to share the articles that were held back/left unpublished?

teheditor212 karma

Yes. TBH it would be easier if I could email it to someone and they post it rather than me faffing around. I wont see PMs at the time though because RIP in peace my inbox. Actually I might just send it to Renai??

Please note that the tone is quite inflammatory in some places. That was because the only criticism I'd had about my BIG article was that tone might lead some people to maybe think it might be biased. As such I over-egged a few comments just so the editor would be able to take things out and feel like they did their job while leaving the rest alone. An old journo trick ;)

EDIT: Have sent it to Renai at Delimiter

HalpTheFan21 karma

What was your reaction to the Media Watch segment on you vs. Turnbull in 2013?

teheditor49 karma

I've answered it elsewhere. I absolutely hate it and it's continued to cause me problems ever since.

freonski47 karma

From this point on I documented everything.

when can I buy your book?

teheditor44 karma

Maybe one day!

jozzas17 karma

How were you pressured not to write anything on the matter? Do you have any written proof of this (e.g. emails)?

teheditor43 karma

This will probably come out later in media.

BlokeInTheMountains14 karma

Why didn't you leave at that point?

teheditor50 karma

I hadn't done anything wrong and was pretty much made untouchable in my industry, which was in massive decline. Also, I'd been told to keep my head down til it was all gone and I'd be alright.

Goonred11 karma

Do you know if it's applied to other areas or just NBN?

teheditor24 karma

I don't know.

piratesahoy44 karma

Also what form did a gag order take? E.g. as explicit as 'you are not to report on the NBN' or 'you are not to report on the NBN in this particular manner' or something more subtle?

teheditor113 karma

It's not like I was given a form that said "Gag order" on it. I was told not to upset pollies. I had articles held back. I was told instead to write an article about "why the NBN had failed"... 4 months before the election.

I said I would but didn't. When the media says things like that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Part of the reason I'm doing this is because we've another election coming up this year and, as a member of the public and tax payer, I don't want my ABC manipulating news according to a political party.

flukus37 karma

I was told instead to write an article about "why the NBN had failed"... 4 months before the election.

Was this request made in writing?

teheditor7 karma

Of course not. But I recorded it.

anthonycaruana164 karma

Hi Nick. Have you retained documentary proof (emails, letters, etc) where you were instructed to stop reporting on the NBN?

teheditor191 karma

As I've now said elsewhere, after the initial meeting I decided to record subsequent meetings to protect myself. Lucky I did:-

I've literally got them on tape saying "the NBN is dead and so there's no point in making a fuss" four months before the election and using that as an excuse not to publish the copper article.

flukus45 karma

This was just as Rudd was coming back too, any momentum around this time could have had some interesting results.

teheditor7 karma

Good point. You'd think Labor would be taking more of an interest? Perhaps?

syvergy142 karma

Hi Nick,

I'm a journalist with PC&Tech Authority, which I think you were also previously an editor of, am I right?

I recently wrote an article that chronicled the history of the NBN, mainly in regards to the disaster that has occurred since the Mix, the staggering amounts of money wasted on purchasing old, dated tech to be re-jigged, as well as the Coalition's fairly obvious plan to pump and dump it to future private buyers.


I'm curious to know what your thoughts are on the future viability of the NBN, and how you were gagged (and what parts specifically) by the ABC in regards to reporting on it.

teheditor109 karma

I remember that article and really liked it. First of its kind I'd seen for a long time. Nice one.

I really think what I wrote in my Vast Differences article and also the Copper Network one say all my views on future viability.

The biggest loss to Australia may well be Telehealth which can't be implemented over copper

I don't even look at MTM as an NBN. It's a shonky upgrade of existing poor infrastructure that seems to serve no purpose except to "download things a bit faster." Almost everything in the media for three years has talked about enough speed and download speeds - that's all a Liberal narrative.

If I'd been able, I'd have destroyed the Vertigan and Ergas Cost Benefit Analysis a few years ago. But the chances of me being able to publish anything on that under the pressure I was under was nil.

yevraaah136 karma

Is the ABC as a whole gagged from reporting on the NBN? If so, can you provide details on where the directive comes from?

The Q&A with Malcolm Turnbull where no NBN discussion was allowed was a farce...

teheditor37 karma

I don't know what other people were told. I've seen Delimiter's investigations on it.

I was told by management.

jozzas85 karma

What did you think of the Mediawatch investigation of your "bias"? Do you think it was fair and impartial?

teheditor67 karma

Some of the worst "journalism" I've seen in ten years. Didn't even call me up first. Have posted more details elsewhere. Still causing me grief.

drfrogsplat30 karma

Following on from this, you've said in comments elsewhere (if I'm remembering correctly) that media watch lied in their story. What exactly did they lie about, and did you follow up or request a correction from them? How did they respond if so?

teheditor51 karma

I was told by my boss to keep quiet and let it pass. But the fallout never did pass. In my Comcare claim, it's once again mentioned that being criticized on Media Watch isn't so bad 'because it's happened to many people.'

The lie is from the quote at the end which they shortened to mean the opposite of what I was saying and vindicate their damning, subjective conclusion.

penmonicus81 karma

Is there a smoking gun here? Something that can land Turnbull [or someone else] in hot water?

teheditor44 karma

You'll have to be the judge of that. I've only got some related information.

flukus65 karma

Do you know of circumstances where government guests have appeared on ABC programs under the condition that the NBN is not discussed?

Edit - As a follow up, Do you believe these conditions should be publicly disclosed?

teheditor62 karma

Not directly but something very weird did happen along those lines. TripleJHack once got in touch and said they had Turnbull as a guest next week and did I have any questions. I gave them four easy-to-read and easily-understandable, challenging questions to put to him. However, when the show appears, the questions aren't asked. Instead Josh Taylor is on giving a low-level talk about the state of the NBN. Turnbull actually says on air what a good journalist Josh is (he's done that before).

I later asked the producer what happened and was told that the interview only happened on short notice even though they'd be planning for a week.

Might be nothing. But got some very cagey, contradictory information from them.

Disclosure of conditions? That varies from journo to journo. I could write an essay on my views but not now.

iamtypingthis31 karma

This interests me! Why is it never asked about on any show, Q & A, 7:30 Report, Mediawatch even?

teheditor41 karma

I'd like an answer to this question.

zaeran58 karma

Hey Nick,

Glad you're finally able to speak out!

My question is: Realistically, what do you think the repercussions will be from the information you plan on revealing, both to yourself and the relevant parties?

teheditor39 karma

I have absolutely no idea. But I've already been fucked over in the MSM and expect that to happen again. The online world and MSM seem to be approaching different realities these days. People can go apeshit online but action doesn't tend to happen unless MSM gets involved.

meck0155 karma

Do you think a Labor government should implement a royal commission into the Liberals handling of the nbn?

teheditor62 karma

I think there needs to be a Royal Commission into all aspects of the NBN. Period.

rockyrho51 karma

Hi Nick,

There are reports that the gagging you claim to have been under was only applied to you, given previous articles you wrote.

Are you aware of anyone else who has been suppressed from reporting on this?

EDIT: a typo

teheditor52 karma

I'm not aware.

Though Jake Sturmer mysteriously stopped doing Tech coverage after his copper network expose. Apparently it's because covering Tech AND Environment was too much.

EDIT: Sorry forgot. Emma Alberici's article was held until after the election. I don't know why. The Drum was waiting to publish it for about a week beforehand. There are emails and Tweets describing this. Also it was discussed as a kind of running gag on our daily news Conference Call for about a week beforehand.

jozzas37 karma

Emma Alberici had an article delayed in the lead up to the election

teheditor36 karma

It was definitely held back. I don't know why. I'd be interested to know actually. Lots of emails and social media and conference calls from the time exist.

ARJayDEV43 karma

Looks like the delimiter disagrees Nick, do they have access to your evidence?

teheditor24 karma

I'm not reading that yet. I know Renai disagrees with my views on journalism. He called me and told me he was doing it earlier. At the end of the day, it's Renai. I suspect the comments and response to it will be interesting. Am I right?

jnfnt40 karma

In your opinion, why is the Coalition intent on rolling out inferior technology? Have you any suspicion / evidence that the financial interests of parliamentarians are being served, by, for example, contracts being assigned to companies to which they are linked?

teheditor56 karma

I really don't know. It doesn't make sense. I'm aware of the rumours as much as the next person? Did they really screw over the whole country just to stick it to Labor? That would be extremely evil.

Next thing is to look at who benefits: Telstra and Foxtel jump out from the page there. But after that all I can do is speculate.

x_kuro36 karma

You mentioned that someone has a "burn file" on you and that you have a copy. What's the most ridiculous reason on it?

teheditor29 karma

I applied to Comcare for support. This is extremely complicated but boils down to the fact that the ABC injured me with stress with Media Watch (and other things) back in 2013.

A person in ABC People (HR dept) sent in "requests for reconsideration" and attached over hundred pages of reasons and documentation (mostly spin, bullshit and lies) backing up their claim that the ABC hadn't done anything wrong and that any issues were down to misunderstandings on my part.

I found out a few days ago that despite all their work, their request was denied. Comcare sided with me.

Jaraparilla23 karma

Nick, you are obviously very brave to speak up like this. I am concerned about your ongoing mental health, especially because (as you are aware) this AMA is just the start: there will be a concerted backlash against you, the Murdoch dogs will dig up every bone they can find, you might even get sued if you make one tiny slip, and the whole thing could be dragged out through courts for a decade. Do you have a good support network around you? If you need any help at all, please let us know.

While most Australians are easily confused by the technical jargon around NBN etc, there are many of us who also lost jobs with NBN associated companies and know exactly what you are saying is 100% correct.

Personally, I thought Abbott deliberately gave Turnbull responsibility for the NBN as a "sh*t sandwich" to keep him sidelined. Amazing how he managed to bullshit everyone. Media AWOL as usual.

teheditor8 karma

Hi, thanks for your concern. Since July 2013 I've been very proactive with my health and had all kinds of blood tests, counselling and checkups over the past few years. Since starting Comcare last July I'm seeing med people about twice a month on average. My main concern was depression as I've seen what that can do to people. Stress and anxiety are normal parts of everyone's lives... mine was increasingly elevated but I was dealing wi it (meds, counselling etc). I mainly got really concerned when depression started creeping in due to my relationship with ABC management moving from toxic to untenable and started hardcore meds. However, shortly after I was handed a way out. You're supposed to keep on antidepressants for at least three months and can't just come off them. However, they drove me nuts and I stopped last week. I've been feeling much better since but am still monitoring everything closely.

I say all this because other people might relate in some way and if they do... see your GP asap and if they recommend seeing a psychologist... do so. It doesn't mean you're doolally, they just show you how to recognise the signs of stress and anxiety and teach you methods of dealing with it. Far better than meds if you can help it.

TL:DR - I'm improving greatly now thanks and still being monitored closely to make double sure. This process is proving therapeutic too.

dukephoenix17 karma

Also - was this burn file made within the ABC HR department?

teheditor16 karma


HalpTheFan34 karma

Firstly, thank you for doing this. Been fan of what you do for about 3 years now and literally, you, Josh Taylor and Marc Fennel are the only people in the Australian Tech Journo industry I actually trust.

Now some questions:

  1. Do you think the current or next government could still pull off an NBN and what would they have to do?

  2. How much do you think of Turnbull's rhetoric influnced people's opinion on the NBN?

  3. Do you have any outlets who are looking at hiring you in the next few months?

teheditor47 karma

Thanks for your support. Things are getting heavy.

  1. I think there should be a Royal Commission into it. So. Much. Bullshit and money wasted. I don't know enough details as to what is salvageable. I don't regard MTM as an NBN. It's just an upgrade of a shonky network to improve download speeds for some reason.

  2. Turnbull has completely controlled the narrative on the NBN for around 5 years. Very few people contradict him. Renai, me and Richard Chirgwin are the only ones I think really did so.

  3. I sincerely doubt it.

istara30 karma

How much government corruption do you perceive over NBN policy, and how much is just sheer bloodymindedness and ignorance?

teheditor24 karma

It needs a Royal Commission. There's massive corruption there. Somewhere.

jacob-scott27 karma

What are you able to tell us about the last three years? Is this experience becoming commonplace across the ABC?

It's been noted that there appears to be a wider trend of tech journalists in Australia leaving the industry – can you comment as to why you think that is? and what effects that will have?

Thanks for doing this AMA, Nick.

teheditor39 karma

Thanks for your sentiments!

The main reason journalists are leaving the industry (and I'm using tech journos as the example) is money.

Older senior journos are being pensioned off because they're expensive. Their jobs aren't being replaced. Instead junior cheap journos are hired instead. They are tasked with getting out x number of articles per day and judged purely on traffic. They're frequently EDITING several mastheads at once too. The days of multi person editorial teams for single titles is gone.

People complain about quality of journalism but the people behind what's left are frequently working harder than ever. Naturally it's mostly for quick, lowest-common-denominator content.

Eventually many burn out and move into PR or other industries. We've lost about 25 Tech Journos in our industry in the past year alone. Many of those roles havent been replaced. There are more tech PRs than journos in Australia now. The pay is better and there's apparently less pressure.

The result is very little in-depth journalism. On a broader level, that also means less time to spend holding politicians to account and instead people just report what they say. Sound familiar?

ScoobyDoNot27 karma

Is it more a case of there being no official ban on NBN discussion, but a gentleman's agreement to ensure the topic is never aired due to political pressures?

teheditor15 karma

Someone gets it!

RetiredITGuy26 karma

If you could write three articles on the NBN that the gag order prevented you from writing, what topics would they cover?

teheditor33 karma

I'd have torn the Vertigan Review and Ergas Cost Benefit Analysis apart.

One I really wanted to do was address this NBN Rebooted claim

The only coverage that got was people repeating what Turnbull said. But it wasn't just wrong scientifically it was wrong mathematically. They said that Cisco VNI showed internet traffic growth was slowing down. But it actually shows it's exploding.

This is a Junior High School-level maths error and it seem to be a foundation of the MTM policy!

Nobody said anything.

jef79m24 karma

Are we going to have pay for a delimiter subscription to actually get any real information?

teheditor43 karma

Apparently Renai has just posted an article saying he disagrees with what I'm doing. So I doubt it. To be fair to him he called me and said as much! We have very different views on journalism and have debated it many a time at the pub. Josh Taylor is kind of similar in this regards too.

It might be that our fundamental differences come from our backgrounds: Josh and Renai come from trained journalism and political studies backgrounds.

I'm a Geologist with qualifications in history(!)


It will be in other media for sure. Remember, many outlets have already published while I'm still doing this and without even talking to me. It's the considered articles down the line that will have all the real details.

But it won't be news then.

Media eh?

r1nce18 karma

Can you describe the differences in approach to overseeing the ABC between the Gillard/Rudd and Abbott/Turnbull governments?

Were there any specific moments prior to the 2013 election that stand out for you?

teheditor26 karma

I used to write long exposes about things like Conroy's internet filter and be allowed to do it. All I'd hear from management was - ooh are you sure? Be careful!

Conroy would give Mark Scott an earful apparently. But ABC Management didn't seem to be afraid of him.

They seem to be very afraid of Turnbull.

And I think the subsequent content reflects this.

ihavemytowel17 karma

Can you comment on the recent NBN analysis and research by Mike Quigley and Richard Ferrers?

teheditor14 karma

Both were excellent.

Very interesting that the Quigley story broke on an ABC radio site article. Such a nobody there followed it up (or ask for my help - apparently they also aired a claim that the internet was slow because letters appeared on the screen slowly when they used their computer). Delimiter did do a follow up and there was some dynamite revelations there. All ignored by MSM.


Hey Nick

Are you willing to divulge the contents of the "burn file" that management/HR were building in you (as per some of your tweets)?

We obviously understand if this needs to be partially redacted to protect other reporters at the ABC. I just figured that if you get over technical discussion and you're going all out on dishing up the goods, this would be interesting to have detailed.

Thanks mate

teheditor11 karma

The contents don't affect other ABC employees. I'm still unsure about publishing it because it basically all revolves around my health claims through Comcare.

If this drags on I'll likely talk about it on other media outlets and give examples though.

So yeah, I can see it happening but not for a while. That's a huge undertaking with the amount of information too. Some parts have given me a huge insight into what management were actually thinking at the time.

K-Lined14 karma

1) What are your thoughts on NBN's current PR? Karina and Tony?

2) Have you had much interaction with them over the years?

3) What are your honest thoughts on FTTN?

4) Do you think FTTN has a place in the Australian rollout?

teheditor11 karma

1) I'm agog at some of the things Karina says. But she came on the scene after I'd stopped covering it. Her predecessor Rhonda was excellent, but it was a totally different company then. 2) Before the election I'd talk to them a lot and always get very thorough straight answers. quickly. 3) It won't work properly in Australia due to the copper. It's a massively expensive waste of time and seems to serve no purpose. 4) I don't think it should at all.

bilky_t13 karma

Hey Nick!

  1. Considering the potential ramifications of this whole situation surrounding your 'un-gagging', what effect do you think all of this will have on Auspol in general?

  2. Is there anyone specifically who Australia should be wary of? Who are the main political players behind the gag order?'

  3. How has your personal life been this past 24-hours (without intruding, no specifics)? Basically, are you staying safe and have there been any threats to your personal safety or credibility outside of the Twitter-sphere?

I cannot thank you enough for what you are doing, Nick!

teheditor10 karma

1&2. I don't do politics. 3. I've done almost nothing but look at Twitter yesterday and reddit today. I've a very understanding and supportive family which is helping. Getting quite tired though. Thanks!

Oz_drdolittle12 karma

Thanks Nick for doing an AMA. Glad you can speak out finally!

Q1: It was implied you were disciplined for your last NBN article in Feb 2013, was this actually the case?

Q2: Sally Cray was Head of Corp Affairs at the ABC at the time, then resigned in Sept 2013 to work for Malcolm Turnbull. After she resigned from the ABC, was there communication between her and you (her and the ABC), directing or requesting you/the ABC cease reporting/writing in-depth articles on the NBN?

teheditor6 karma


1) No I wasn't. I saw earlier that the Daily Mail was leading with that claim too. I can't seem to escape it. What on earth would I be disciplined for? It's a really good, balanced article and the best I've ever written. My boss only ever said to me that if I changed a few words the tone would have got me out of trouble. (I don't actually believe that anymore btw). But that's it. It's really annoying though. I couldn't do anything to fix it last time and it's still happening now because of that. This was all down to the exchange between Sally Cray and The Australian mentioned elsewhere.

TWO. No. She only ever spoke to me before throwing me under the bus to other media.

I did email her a long time later to clarify exactly what she had said to The Australian but she said that she didn't remember.

I didn't know who she was until a senior journalist told me years later anyway.

ShushKebab9 karma

Hi Nick, thanks for doing this. Someone really needs to shine a light on the fact that NBN Co. has been wraught with terrible decisions. Tad coincidental that I'm working on the floor above them in North Sydney. With regards to legal advice, is this just for a sense of playing safe or are you expecting ABC to take you to court?

teheditor14 karma

For telling the truth? Hopefully, not. Also you'd get the Streisand effect. Also, they'd literally have to try and set legal precedents that would stop themselves doing some forms of journalism.

So yeah. I wouldn't put anything past them these days. Some truths must out though.

I can't sit on public interest information. I also refuse to go into the next election suspecting that information is being manipulated and do nothing about it.

Frookie127 karma

In your opinion what's the most broken shocking/broken aspect of the nbn?

teheditor8 karma

Australia's copper is "rooted."