ABC federal politics reporter resigns over Gaza coverage

Nour Haydar, a political reporter in the ABC’s Parliament House bureau has resigned over concerns relating to the national broadcaster’s coverage of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, as well as its treatment of culturally diverse staff.

Haydar, who joined the ABC as a cadet in 2017, covered NSW state politics before moving to Canberra as a federal politics reporter in 2019. She currently appears across the ABC’s online, television and radio channels.

She told this masthead her decision was straightforward after the broadcaster’s coverage came under scrutiny from journalists within its own newsrooms since October 7.

ABC federal politics reporter Nour Haydar.
ABC federal politics reporter Nour Haydar.

“I have resigned from the ABC. This was not a decision that I made lightly, but one I made with total clarity,” she said.

“Commitment to diversity in the media cannot be skin deep. Culturally diverse staff should be respected and supported even when they challenge the status quo.

“Death and destruction on the scale we have seen over recent months has made me reassess my priorities.”

The broadcaster will respond next week to a Fair Work case brought by freelance journalist Antoinette Lattouf, who is alleging unlawful termination of a short-term contract in December. On Thursday, Lattouf updated her claim to include an allegation of racial discrimination.

Lattouf was three days into a five-day contract, hosting the mornings program on ABC Radio Sydney when she was asked not to return to her post following several social media posts, her Fair Work lodging alleges.

Haydar said her decision was made before the broadcaster’s handling of Lattouf’s exit came to light.

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“I made my decision before learning about Antoinette Lattouf’s termination. However, I am disappointed and concerned by reports about her treatment.

Police were present at the ABC’s Ultimo office in Sydney on Thursday for protests relating to the dismissal of Antoinette Lattouf and the broader issue of silencing journalists.
Police were present at the ABC’s Ultimo office in Sydney on Thursday for protests relating to the dismissal of Antoinette Lattouf and the broader issue of silencing journalists.Credit: Dion Georgopoulos

“I am proud of my seven years at the public broadcaster. While I am leaving the ABC and the federal parliamentary press gallery, I still enjoy storytelling and believe good journalism should hold the powerful to account – be it individuals or states. I’m looking forward to pursuing a new and exciting opportunity in 2024.”

An ABC spokesperson congratulated Haydar on a terrific career with the broadcaster, agreeing that the Australian media industry needed genuine commitment to properly representing Australia’s full diversity of people and perspectives in the workforce, and in content. They added the broadcaster had a strong commitment to this goal.

“The ABC News workforce and journalism is the most representative it has ever been, and we’re continuing to progress. Including a range of voices and perspectives makes our journalism better and more accurate,” they said.

“The Israel-Gaza conflict is a complex and difficult story to cover and we understand and care about the particular personal and professional challenges it involves for journalists. The ABC is committed to accuracy, impartiality and fairness in our Israel-Gaza coverage, as in all our reporting.

“The ABC has strong editorial policies that underpin our journalism and a rigorous process – including an Ombudsman’s Office – to handle editorial complaints.”

The spokesperson added that no ABC employees should be subjected to personal attacks.

“The ABC constantly strives to support and defend ABC employees and their work, internally and externally.”

Haydar is of Lebanese heritage. Her grandmother was killed in a civilian convoy by an Israeli air strike in southern Lebanon in 2006. A subsequent Human Rights Watch investigation urged the United Nations to investigate over potential war crimes.

She was also one of about 200 staff to take part in a meeting with senior news staff at the ABC in November according to a source not authorised to speak publicly, but with direct knowledge of the meeting.

During the meeting, staff criticised the broadcaster’s coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas following the October 7 attack on Israel and the subsequent bombing campaign in Gaza.

Protests at the ABC’s Ultimo office on Thursday.
Protests at the ABC’s Ultimo office on Thursday.Credit: Dion Georgopoulos

A number of grievances were raised, including the ABC’s hesitancy to use particular terminology such as “invasion”, “occupation”, “genocide”, “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” in its reporting, as well as concerns over potential irreparable damage done to relations with Arab and Muslim communities.

ABC hierarchy subsequently implemented a Gaza advisory panel for its ongoing coverage, but the broadcaster’s union house committee, alongside several prominent journalists, signed a letter later that month urging the country’s newsrooms to reassess and improve their coverage of the conflict.

Journalists from the newsrooms of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age also signed the letter, which amassed more than 300 signatures.

Haydar also came under criticism in October from media outlets including Sky News Australia and the Daily Mail for sharing social media posts relating to the conflict, but was not deemed to have breached the broadcaster’s social media policies.

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance media director Cassie Derrick told this masthead the ABC has a poor track record of supporting journalists from diverse cultural backgrounds when they come under external criticism and attack.

“The resignation of Nour Haydar follows a pattern that has seen Stan Grant quit the ABC and Antoinette Latouff sacked at the alleged direction of the managing director. In each case, management has failed to back their staff when they have come under attack from outside the ABC.

“First Nations journalists and journalists from cultural minorities at the ABC say they have felt abandoned by management when they have been targeted by lobby groups and politicians.”

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