ABC news director Gaven Morris resigns after ‘enormous contribution’ to broadcaster

By Amanda Meade
ABC director of news Gaven Morris speaks to the media
ABC director of news Gaven Morris is resigning from his role with the national broadcaster. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

ABC news director Gaven Morris has resigned after six years in the top job, saying he won’t sign a new contract as he wants to seek a new challenge.

Morris, who set up the ABC News channel in 2010, was appointed director of news in 2015 aged 43 after starting as a reporter when he was 20.

“Gaven’s contribution to the ABC has been enormous,” the ABC managing director, David Anderson, told staff in a surprise email on Thursday.

“His strategic vision and boundless drive and energy have been integral to a string of achievements, including leading the 2010 launch of the ABC News channel; spearheading ABC News’s rise to digital excellence; creating the journalistic powerhouses of ABC investigations and the specialist reporting team; fostering News’s culture of diversity and inclusion; and driving the strategy to make News’s content and services more relevant to all Australians.”

Morris began as a copy boy on the then Fairfax papers in Canberra in the early 1990s and has a background in 24-hour and international news with stints at CNN, Al-Jazeera English and Network Ten.

“I have decided not to pursue a new contract when my current one ends and have let our MD David Anderson know I am keen to seek my next challenge,” Morris told staff.

“I’ve provided David with plenty of notice and I’ll continue to serve the ABC for as long as he needs me to. I’ll keep you updated on the recruitment process for the next director over the coming weeks.”

He leaves on a high, with ABC News being the number one digital news site for more than a year since it overtook Rupert Murdoch’s news.com.au.

But the success of ABC’s digital news has made it more of a target for News Corp, which regularly attacks the broadcaster’s journalism in its outlets, particularly the Australian.

As news director, Morris is responsible for the nation’s biggest news-gathering workforce: about 1,200 staff across eight capital city newsrooms, 11 international bureaus and three suburban newsrooms in Parramatta, Geelong and Ipswich.

Likely internal candidates include the editorial director, Craig McMurtrie, and the head of investigative journalism, John Lyons.

Morris, who turns 50 next year, has championed the 50:50 project to “reflect the full diversity of modern Australia” in the ABC’s content and workforce.

“Through the work of all of you, I believe we’ve made more progress here in the past five years than was made in the 50 years before,” Morris said.


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