Tracey Holmes: “I realised, how can I walk back into that place?”

Tracey Holmes: “I realised, how can I walk back into that place?”

In an interview with Peter FitzSimons, outgoing ABC sports reporter Tracey Holmes indicates she previously resigned in January, but was talked out of her decision.

Now she speaks frankly to the Sydney Morning Herald on the question: “Why are you leaving the ABC?”

TH: My time’s up. There are stories I want to continue telling. And it’s getting harder and harder to tell them. I think systems and processes and admin has taken over journalism. And there’s a fair bit of box-ticking as well. And I’m not interested in box-ticking. I’m not interested in admin. I’m interested in talking to people of the world and telling their stories so that we can all understand each other a little bit better. And I’m most interested in the role that sport plays in that prism.

Fitz: All right, why has the ABC fallen from fifth most trusted brand in Australia to 18th in just the last four years? Or would you rather answer at the end of the month when you and Elvis have left the building?

TH: There used to be a strength at the ABC. There was a backbone of strength where journalists would be able to go and tell uncomfortable stories, but it’s been watered down and weakened to such a point where they won’t … they don’t want to go there. And I think that that’s an absolute shame.

Fitz: Are you taking your hat, your coat, your umbrage and leaving in high dudgeon? Is there a particular story that was spiked and you said, “Well, I’m out of here!”?

TH: No, no, there were numerous stories like that, stories that I have been unable to tell. And I have argued strongly that the way they decide some of these things appears to be agenda-driven. And I don’t want to play any part in any agenda. And I actually think the ABC has a responsibility not to be beholden to agendas, or to be beholden to the loudest people in the room, or the loudest critics that will criticise anyway, so you might as well stand up and tell the stories. So leaving was for a number of very complex reasons. Not the least of which was the treatment of my husband, not once but twice over a three-month period. Basically, it made it untenable for me to stay.

Fitz: This sounds very personal for you?

TH: Look, I resigned from the ABC back in January. And I was talked out of it. I stayed and did the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Then I took a break. And then there was the second attack on my husband while we were out of the country, (about Stan’s time at the ABC), which was based on absolute lies. I rang the ABC to say, “Are you going to try and correct the record?” and they wouldn’t. And so I realised: how can I walk back into that place? That’s not a criticism of the entire ABC and all the people there. Because I still think there’s a lot of great work. But it’s not the ABC it was, and I hope it finds its way back.

Tracey Holmes has accreditation for the Paris Olympics and has hinted at covering events via YouTube. She finishes at ABC on November 30.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald