A Pat on the back for Chris Uhlmann

We all love a good pat on the back when we’ve done good work. Conversely, we also expect some form of criticism if we’ve made mistakes when we are responsible or accountable for something.

Management has to strike a balance between, on the one hand, encouraging and supporting their staff while, on the other, calling them out for their mistakes as they help to correct them. In both cases it’s also important to not be seen to be treating staff like children.

Bruce Belsham’s defence of Chris Uhlmann against Paul Keating’s criticism reminds me of a parent who celebrates their child’s most ordinary work. While I’ve no opinion on whether Keating is justified in his criticism, Belsham’s retort – especially with his allegations of bias – feels like it has come straight from the pages of Christos Tsolkias’ The Slap. Rosie, the aggrieved mother of the abused child would be proud of his no matter what defence. One only hopes though he doesn’t follow her lead and take it, Chris Mitchell style, all the way to the lawyers.

Tonight, Chris Uhlmann might just be embarrassed about all the attention. It might even be reminding him of the time the ABC forgot to pay the power bill for his Sydney apartment. While this time there appears to be no twitter evidence of any red wine drinking as there was the time he was left sitting in the dark, I still can’t get out of my head an image of him curled up on the floor surrounded by empty bottles of red crying “Why, Bruce, Why?”

I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s glad his partner is back this month. Probably not to help him continue to learn on the job, as Keating speculated, but perhaps to share the walk from the front door to the studio. Fingers point, whispers carry. It’s easier to ignore them if you’ve got someone else to talk to after all.


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