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ABC’s Antony Green on his 25-year career in elections

Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Back Story has published an interview with the public broadcaster’s election analyst Antony Green to mark his appointment as Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney.

How did your role as ABC election analyst begin?

It’s an unusual story. I had finished my politics studies and in 1989 was back in the computer industry writing software and had also embarked on a post-graduate degree in econometrics. Computer programming was well paid, but boring and I was looking for something else to do. I was looking at trainee economist jobs, when I saw an ad from the ABC offering a six month job as an election researcher. It was a big pay cut, but looked interesting and I always thought I could go back to economics afterwards.

There were 150 applicants and eight were interviewed, including several people with PhDs, but legendary ABC producer Ian Carroll picked me. I had no media background, but I had the political knowledge, enthusiasm and was streets ahead of the other applicants in terms of computer knowledge. I always had the suspicion Ian was looking for someone who could talk in the same language as the engineers who ran the ABC’s rather aging computer system in those days!

What’s the biggest challenge? 

Maintaining the standards of what we produce. There is a vast array of information you can now pull down and publish on an election website, but you have to give a bit of editorial thought to what is important or you just end up with pages of content with no meaning.

What’s involved in preparing for each election?

The set up for an election is enormous and when elections come around, that is the main part of my job rather than providing campaign commentary. The database has to be built up with the candidates, polling places and past results. There are preference formulas to load. There are special codings to control the television graphics and, these days, the online website.

Some of the work can start years earlier. Recently, I’ve been working on calculating the impact of state and federal redistributions. These calculations, done eighteen months ahead of the election, are essential starting points for the election night coverage. That work isn’t always understood by people.

Continue reading at ABC Back Story.

Author Bio

Harley Dennett

Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and been a staff reporter for newspapers in Sydney and Washington DC.