Channel Seven seeks ‘people and culture manager’ amid Lehrmann fallout, but where is the head of news? | Weekly Beast (2024)

At its 2024 programming launch Seven branded itself the “home of mass cultural moments”, presumably without suspecting its own news culture would play a very public role in some mass cultural moments.

Not only did the Bruce Lehrmann defamation trial hear evidence the network reimbursed the interviewee for money spent on cocaine and sex workers, which it denied, but on Sunday Seven News threw the network further into crisis by naming the wrong man on air as the Bondi Junction killer.

Bruce Lehrmann case sends Seven, Nine and Ten into internecine TV warfare | Weekly BeastRead more

Perhaps that’s why Seven is advertising for a “People and Culture Manager – News and Public Affairs” to “assist leaders in managing costs, ensuring compliance and proactive issue resolution”, among other tasks.

Three departures – and a survivor

In the space of a week Seven lost its managing director, James Warburton, veteran commercial director, Bruce McWilliam, and the executive producer of Spotlight, Mark Llewellyn.

Warburton and McWilliam had announced their departures before the Lehrmann scandal exploded, but their exits have been marred by what Justice Michael Lee called the “sordid” allegations made by the former Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach.

But one executive, Craig McPherson, has remained out of the frame despite being in charge of news and current affairs at the network. Internally staff are asking why McPherson has remained so quiet.

McPherson, hired by Seven in 2015 as the network director of news and public affairs, is responsible for Seven News, Sunrise and Spotlight. When things are going well he likes to take credit. “It’s extremely satisfying that 7NEWS has grown its dominance in 2023 throughout all of Australia and in key markets,” he said recently. “To be Australia’s #1 news source gives all our teams great pride and with it, responsibility to keep delivering accurate and high-quality content for all our markets as we herald over 6,000 hours of broadcast news this year.”

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

We asked McPherson if he took responsibility for Seven’s conduct related to the Lehrmann interview and the Bondi Junction error. We also asked the new chief executive, Jeff Howard, if the Seven board, which met on Thursday to endorse Howard, still had confidence in McPherson. They did not reply.

Seven has been quick to point fingers at others over its recent controversies. Just minutes into Lee’s lengthy judgment on Monday, the network spokesperson sent an email to reporters saying “for the avoidance of doubt” Spotlight’s executive producer, Mark Llewellyn, “no longer works for the Seven network”.

Channel Seven seeks ‘people and culture manager’ amid Lehrmann fallout, but where is the head of news? | Weekly Beast (1)

When Sunrise wrongly named Sydney man Benjamin Cohen as the Bondi Junction killer, Seven apologised to Cohen, but put the blame on a junior social media editor. During a live cross from Bondi Junction to the studio, it was Sunrise co-host Matt Shirvington who named Cohen, a mistake also made by another reporter shortly afterwards. Cohen is suing Seven for defamation.

Whybrow’s choice

The Lehrmann case returns to court on Monday for submissions on costs, but Bruce Lehrmann’s barrister Steven Whybrow SC, who no longer acts for the former Liberal staffer, made some lighthearted remarks about the case in an unscripted appearance on Wednesday.

At a conservative conference in Fremantle, sponsored by the Institute of Public Affairs, Whybrow was introduced by Janet Albrechtsen, a columnist for The Australian. According to a report in the same publication, Whybrow told the audience he was yet to read Lee’s judgment in full, adding in a tongue in cheek manner that he had already moved on.

“My partner said to me … ‘You choose Bruce or you choose me’, and I’ve decided to choose her,” Whybrow said.

“I was hoping that this decision … would be the end of it. It’s the end of it for me, thank God.”

ABC dragged into wild horses row

Jamelle Wells is well known as a seasoned court reporter for the ABC in Sydney, has written a book about her experience covering high profile cases, and reads the news on ABC radio.

Channel Seven seeks ‘people and culture manager’ amid Lehrmann fallout, but where is the head of news? | Weekly Beast (2)

Wells is also a passionate advocate for brumbies and is opposed to the state government’s policies on control of feral horses in Kosciuszko national park. She is now under investigation by the ABC in relation to this activity.

The Invasive Species Council has lodged a complaint with the ABC about Wells and her coverage of the feral horses issue, first reported by Media Watch.

The complaint, seen by Guardian Australia, includes multiple Facebook posts in which Wells criticises media coverage of the issue, including by the ABC, encourages the public to complain to the ABC, and suggests how to lobby to stop the cull.

The complaint specifies that Wells read a news update on 8 April on the feral horse control program in Kosciuszko, which the council claims is inaccurate.

“The state government has been accused of starting an aerial cull of wild horses in Kosciuszko national park despite getting the number of horses wrong,” the news update said. “An inquiry has heard horses are being shot up to 18 times.”

The complaint, which is being investigated by the ABC Ombudsman, alleges Wells has breached several ABC editorial policies, including the guidelines on personal use of social media, and failed to declare a significant personal conflict of interest in her reporting.

“We’re investigating the matters that have been raised,” a spokesperson for ABC News told Weekly Beast. “The ABC doesn’t comment on confidential staff matters.”

PVO matches with Mail

It’s been about a year since Peter van Onselen announced he was quitting journalism to return to academia, resigning from the Ten Network where he had been political editor since 2018 and an erstwhile host of The Project.

PVO, as he is known, clearly missed the cut and thrust of political journalism because he is back with a new gig: political editor of the Daily Mail in Australia.

Channel Seven seeks ‘people and culture manager’ amid Lehrmann fallout, but where is the head of news? | Weekly Beast (3)

It’s been quite the journalism journey: from academic to Sky News Australia, to The Australian, to Ten News and The Project and now to the unashamedly tabloid website.

The Daily Mail said the “proven newsbreaker and respected commentator” had joined the masthead with a brief to “break exclusives and provide both political and social commentary”.

The editor of the Daily Mail Australia, Felicity Hetherington, said: “We’re thrilled with Peter’s appointment and believe his in-depth knowledge of the political issues affecting everyday Australians coupled with his incisiveness are perfect for our ever-growing readership.” Hetherington confirmed PVO will not continue writing for the Oz.

Van Onselen was approached for comment.

ABC chef and broadcaster dies

The flamboyant chef Ian Parmenter, who has died aged 79, was a well-known face to ABC TV viewers in the 1990s and early 2000s.

A former TV director and producer, the broadcaster presented 450 episodes of a unique 10-minute show, Consuming Passions, between 1992 and 2001.

Sad. A talented enthusiast.

— Jonathan Green (@GreenJ) April 15, 2024

Parmenter, who lived in Margaret River, was awarded the medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2011 for his service to the food and tourism industries as an event director, author, journalist and broadcaster.

Channel Seven seeks ‘people and culture manager’ amid Lehrmann fallout, but where is the head of news? | Weekly Beast (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Arielle Torp

Last Updated:

Views: 6442

Rating: 4 / 5 (61 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Arielle Torp

Birthday: 1997-09-20

Address: 87313 Erdman Vista, North Dustinborough, WA 37563

Phone: +97216742823598

Job: Central Technology Officer

Hobby: Taekwondo, Macrame, Foreign language learning, Kite flying, Cooking, Skiing, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Arielle Torp, I am a comfortable, kind, zealous, lovely, jolly, colorful, adventurous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.