We have moved to a new address called
Come on over and read about the big news on the Macquarie Uni partnership with @NoFibs.
This site will remain live for a while as our archive and to give you plenty of time to get used to the new address.
We have moved to a new address called
Come on over and read about the big news on the Macquarie Uni partnership with @NoFibs.
This site will remain live for a while as our archive and to give you plenty of time to get used to the new address.
Sarah Capper, Sheilas editor: Veteran political journalist and author Margo Kingston is back! And just in the nick of time with an election year upon us.
After some time off, Margo returned to writing at the end of last year, spurred into action when she heard Opposition leader Tony Abbott attacking the Prime Minister over the so-called ‘AWU’ slush fund. In her best-selling book ‘Not Happy John!’ (recently relaunched by Penguin as an e-book), Margo examined Tony Abbott’s own involvement in a ‘slush fund’ – with the dubiously named ‘Australians for Honest Politics’ fund that was set-up to bankroll court action against Pauline Hanson. Margo reminded readers of this with articles published on the Independent Australia website, and was then further encouraged back into writing when former Webdiarist Tony Yegles created a website under the same fantastic title of ‘Australians for Honest Politics’. Welcome back, Margo!
In terms of returning to a ‘virtual reality’, she explains:
After seven years in the real world I’m back in the virtual one until the election. Once I dabbled on twitter and realised the extent of the collapse of the mainstream media as an accountability mechanism, it was inevitable. So I have deferred the final year of my nursing degree, accepted the services of the geek who created a website, and got to work with fellow citizen journos. I’m excited to be again fulfilling my vocation, this time watching the death of the old media and playing a part in the creation of the new.
We hope to publish more of Margo Kingston over this election year and link readers to articles on her new site. In this piece for Sheilas, Margo looks at what’s been making news through Twitter over the last week – click on the links below to be redirected to articles:
On March 7, Australian Women’s Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe linked this post on Twitter:
I came across it on International Women’s Day. Grrrrr. It read to me like sour grapes from a columnist who had privileged access to the former Prime Minister John Howard, and was now pissed off from feeling a little, well, displaced.
Helen McCabe is an old friend – we did the road trip chasing Pauline Hanson in her 1998 election campaign – so in response, I tweeted:
Vigorous twitter talk ensued, and Helen asked for pieces – which she paid for – on why the phrase mummy blogger was not OK.
Zoe Arnold wrote ‘Why mummy bloggers are so much more than their condescending name suggests’ .
Kim Berry wrote ‘Don’t call me a mummy blogger’.
To Helen’s credit, she then used her gig on Network Ten’s The Project to put the wider world in the picture.
This is what can happen on Twitter.
I felt uncomfortable watching Tony Abbott use his sister to remake his image on Sixty Minutes.
So did Shelly Horton, Sydney party reporter for the Sunday tabloid the Sun Herald. She tweeted:
‘I don’t think Tony Abbott is a reformed woman-loving gay-accepting man. I just think he’s been media trained to be polished liar’.
Her personal opinion on the Abbott interview summed it up for so many that the original tweet was retweeted nearly 500 times. Read the rest of this entry »
By Margo Kingston
March 1, 2013
It’s a funny feeling to be writing an introduction to the ebook of Still Not Happy, John!’, because after so many years in retirement I’m now back doing what I love – writing for and editing a citizen journalism website.
Back then it was with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Webdiary, created in 2000 and the inspiration for my 2004 book, Not Happy, John!. The book saw Fairfax turn its back on my work, and after a gruelling struggle to save Webdiary, I retired hurt in December 2005. A community-supported Webdiary finally closed last July.
After seven years as an internet refugee, I’m now a Twitter obsessive, and surprised I’m still up for it. For me it’s ground hog day, but with the bells and whistles of technology making the process easier and more fun. And I’ve been given an armchair ride on Twitter due to the support of many former Webdiarists who’ve since become internet writers and activists.
What brought me back was a compulsion borne of amazement that the media had let Tony Abbott get away with claiming the AWU slush fund saga was a question of character for the PM (‘Australians for Honest Politics’ is the name Tony Abbott gave his own slush fund, detailed at length in the book).
Only Michelle Grattan, now a fellow escapee to online new media heaven, had the class to acknowledge a collective lapse in memory in the Press Gallery. No one took up my challenge to push Abbott on his unanswered slush questions, despite their ferocious pursuit of Julia Gillard on hers.
Having put history as completely back on the record as I could thanks to The King’s Tribune and New Matilda, I was set to resume my new life until I noted with alarm the extraordinary lack of mainstream media interest in the implications of the Ashby judgement. I wrote of the resonance between the old Abbott slush story and the Ashby scandal, then howled with dismay at the lack of Ashby follow-up.
Now, damn it, I’m hooked on journalism again.
Several tweeps asked for an ebook of Still Not Happy, John!, and Penguin has kindly obliged. I feel it’s worth a read, or a re-read. Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry »
By Michael Taylor (TheAIMN)
February 24, 2013
There is an old movie line I often recall: A life filled with activity suggests a life filled with purpose.
I have no hesitation in borrowing that line in applying it is an apt portrayal of well-known Australian author and journalist; Margo Kingston. I’ve been a big fan of Margo’s since her book Not happy, John hit the shelves in 2004, so I was chuffed to be granted an interview with her last week. I was to discover just how active and purposeful her life has been, and still is, and that there is far more to Margo than the book which first introduced her to me.
But first, a little background.
Margo, a Queenslander, graduated from university with a degree in arts and law and practised as a solicitor in Brisbane before lecturing in commercial law in Rockhampton. The move to journalism saw her working for The Courier-Mail and within a year moved to The Times on Sunday. She had since worked for The Age, The Canberra Times and A Current Affair before moving to The Sydney Morning Herald, where she worked until her retirement in August 2005. Her first book was Off The Rails: The Pauline Hanson Trip which recounted her experiences (as a journalist) on the One Nation Party’s election campaign in the 1990s. She is also known for her now defunct blog, Webdiary.
“Writing the book about the One Nation Party experience was a testing time for me and I vowed never to write another book again. I didn’t consider myself an author or a person willing to be one. A journalist, yes. An author, no” recalled Margo. At this point I was wondering why she later decided to write Not happy, John, however, a slight hesitation on my behalf gave her the opportunity to proceed with an explanation. “While I was working for the Sydney Morning Herald I was invited by Phillip Adams (from Radio National’s Late Night Live) to be on the discussion panel of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas. It was there that Phillip tapped me on the shoulder and said I needed to write a book about John Howard. Of course, the answer was an insistent ‘no’ but the response was “it’s your duty” and one thing led to another and before I knew it I found myself writing Not happy, John“.
It wasn’t long before the book put her on the outer with her employer.
“After a long-term Government everyone in the media seems quite happy with how the country is governed and so after many years of Howard the Sydney Morning Herald had drifted slowly to the right. The publication of the book was frowned upon and my run-ins with the SMH editor are now famous”.
I could sense that Margo is more excited about her post-SMH life, even though when she began her new incarnation she did so as an emotionally shattered soul. Read the rest of this entry »
WHEN someone from the South Australian Governor’s leadership forum suggested I speak to it on ‘the media, democracy, citizenship and globalisation’ I asked if she knew I’d just failed – spectacularly – in making a go of my independent Webdiary, which I launched last August when Fairfax gave me the choice of ditching my vision or going solo.
Fairfax’s slow but relentless rejection of my work since 2001, when they made me leave Canberra and warehoused me in the backwater of the Sydney Morning Herald online, culminated, I thought then, in mid 2004.
The SMH editor Robert Whitehead vetoed the literary editor’s recommendation to publish an extract of Not Happy John! and pulled a piece on the book from the Spectrum section. Fairfax Sunday papers then picked up the rights, but the Sunday Age editor reneged on the contract with my publisher and refused to pay, while the Sun Herald would not have published the extract without the last minute intervention of the features editor. The Sun Herald also cancelled my weekly column as I was about to travel around Australia launching the book. I was told when I called to advise that my piece was on its way.
Naturally I saw the writing on the wall for Webdiary. The latest redundancy round had just closed fully subscribed, but they agreed to my offer to take redundancy in return for a contract to write for, edit and publish Webdiary for three years. I knew that three years would be it, and invested half my redundancy package in employing my brother Hamish to organise and launch Your Democracy, a website to experiment with citizen journalism with a view to moving Webdiary there when my contract expired.
But by early last year, the new publishing system which came with the contracted Webdiary, which enabled readers to comment directly through a comments box rather than by email, had overwhelmed me. Editing and publishing the ever increasing number of comments saw me chained to my computer seven days a week, unable to research or write my own stuff. So I asked for a couple of technical tweaks to cut down processing time.
From a detached viewpoint, this should have been no problem. I was on less than half my permanent employee pay doing the same job without the permanent employer add ons, a job I’d done without supervision or a writ for nearly five years. It was very popular and a unique feature of the SMH online. It remained the sole mainstream media interactive political site, one which consciously and transparently sought to fulfil the journalist’s code of ethics while allowing anyone with something to say the opportunity to do so and to criticise me and question its framework and judgment.
Under Fred Hilmer, Fairfax was a short-term bottom-line-focused operation which saw journalism as an expensive and troublesome way of filling the space between the ads. Short term costs were the dominant factor in every decision apart from the size of mega executive bonuses. At first my request was dealt with by SMH online managers with no budget, so I disclosed my technical problems to readers, and lo and behold they came up with an idea I thought was breathtaking in its generosity and its advantages to Fairfax.
Readers offered to edit comments on a voluntary basis and to construct a new site with upgraded technical features, also for free.
This is a big moment for me, saying who I am. I have personal, family and business reasons for being anonymous on Twitter.
The last piece like this one I wrote 10 years ago on Margo Kingston’s pioneering Webdiary.
Does it matter who The Geek is? From the moment I set up a site with Margo Kingston called “Australians for Honest Politics”, I knew that to be a credible contributor I would have to be honest and transparent about the man behind The Geek.
The Geek’s time is over, and the time for the smart, sophisticated and insightful guy behind him has arrived. This is part of my 2013 resolution. My inner Gough was telling me: It’s time!
How I use Twitter
Don’t you love it when people follow through with their New Year resolutions? You have to admire my courage for doing this. Okay maybe not just yet, but please hear me out. To get to this point, I had to fight my way through the party political trench warfare on Twitter. How many people do you know who have done this? How many have retained their sense of humour? I had to fight orcs, goblins, wargs, stone giants and trolls.
I am making light of the infamous hash tag on twitter called auspol, where it seems a lot of nasty (mostly from the right) people gather. It was a deliberate decision of mine to go where the left meets the right at the coalface of political argument, to witness it in all its ugliness, pettiness, and hatred. Can you blame me for adopting a pseudonym?
In the distant past, a time before Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, these groups would never meet directly. Now they are directly exposed to each other in public.
It can be fun to go where the tectonic plates of Australian politics clash and observe the resulting fireworks. It certainly can be more entertaining than the reheated, predictable, jaded, cynical and repetitive groupthink narrative dished up every day by our professional media communicators.
What I found in my travels through Twitter Mordor is that reason and logic will only get you so far. To discuss politics and to keep your sanity on Twitter you have to use humour, parody and satire, especially in an era of Post Truth Politics and Post Facts Media.
A thing is funny when it upsets the established order. Every joke is a tiny revolution. – George Orwell
Thus George Orwell explains what destroying the joint means. I like to challenge basic assumptions and premises put on Twitter which invariably reflect the media-fed or party-fed narrative of the day. You can quickly establish with a few questions who is a shallow tweeter and who has substance and beliefs.
My first ever Tweet:
My fourth Tweet – Finding my voice:
My sixth and seventh Tweet – Finding my calling:
There are many ways to engage politically. You can write a blog, you can write a letter, you can tweet a journo, and you can ring call-back radio. In the end it doesn’t matter as long as you engage with the issues that are important to you. I sometimes choose to engage with LNP staffers/members and Menzies House trolls on Twitter because I like to get my hands dirty. I prefer the salt of the earth kind of way rather than a high brow academic approach to politics, which in my view is ineffective in the Post Truth era.
Here is an illustration of the approach I prefer. Cut down a David Speers Sky News video interview from 13.30 minutes to 35 seconds to communicate at a visceral level with the viewer who gets the context of the Carbon Tax scare campaign.
Mr Abbott says: “If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax.” June 3, 2011. You can argue the issues in a purist way and write an impressive blog post about it but as a comparison, this video attracted 55,000 views on YouTube and was featured in multiple news programs, Q & A, Lateline and commercial TV. When is the last time a well argued, well researched blog post achieved that?
If the Liberals did not exist, you would have to invent them. If Tony Abbott did not exist, the media would lose its stunt-a-day readymade vaudeville machine. Abbott fulfils a need the media has to provide content and visuals to fill their gaps with a readymade circus. The media has no need for quality. This in part explains the disconnect with their audience and the failing business model.
So there you have it. The key to twitter is to enjoy it and have fun. This is my guiding philosophy for life.
Early Life Europe
My journey began in a place far away, not Mordor, but a little town called Ettelbruck in the tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
My parents are Spanish and migrated to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in the 1960’s. I am incredibly proud of what they achieved in bringing up a family of 8 kids (5 sisters and 2 brothers) in a foreign land with the most rudimentary language skills except for a little French. I was child number 5 and the second to be born in Luxembourg.
My birth made the newspaper as I was born in a taxi on the way to the hospital. This is when my love for newspapers began and ended up with me running a digital services company to Newspaper Publishers.
By 7 I had learned four languages. I was speaking Spanish, struggling with Luxembourgish and German and at ease in French. At the time we had German, French and Luxembourgish TV and newspapers. I watched and read them all as I was growing up and going through my “Sturm und Drang” phase trying to find a meaning to life.
These were exciting and momentous times in the Europe of the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was the era of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan’s Pershing Missiles, Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, Giscard D’Estaing, Francois Mitterand, Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohl, Erich Honecker and the DDR, Disco and Trabant. It was the era of Petra Kelly, and Die Grünen (German Green Party) who were one of the earlier elected Greens in a national Parliament.
In those days, the terrorists we had to deal with were the IRA, ETA, Baader-Meinhof Group and Brigate Rosse.
There was also a more serious version of Ashbygate, the 1982 coup d’état attempt in Spain. It was a conspiracy conceived to overthrow the government. I remember my family being glued to the television set, fearful that a Franco type Dictator would return and destroy a fledgling Spanish Democracy. King Juan Carlos saved the country with an address to the nation, calling for rebellious army units to return to their barracks. They did.
As an addendum to my piece in Margo’s Webdiary, when I met Bob Hawke, he said to me: “I’ve met your king”.
We had Gorby’s Glasnost and Perestroika, then we had one of those troublemaker union organisers, an electrician (later President and Nobel Prize) Lech Wałęsa in Poland, the head of Solidarność (Solidarity) who started the Eastern Block Revolutions of 1989. The communist regimes of Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and the Ceausescus in Romania all came tumbling down. We had Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of Yugoslavia.
You get the idea. I followed all of this not through studying history but through quality multilingual media and journalism in Europe. My favourite publication was the German Der Spiegel (Global Mail Story), one of the world’s most successful magazines which, against all odds, is still making money. Have I mentioned quality yet?
If journalism is the first draft of history, we are in big trouble right now. Apparently we feel threatened in this country by a few women and children on a boat. We are unable to find out who leaked to Laurie Oakes in the 2010 Election campaign. We are unable to find out who continually leaks police operations to the media. We are unable to question Mal Brough, Tony Abbott, or Christopher Pyne on their knowledge of the Ashby conspiracy. We are unable to get answers from the Taxpayer funded ABC. We get pop psychology about Celebrity Big Pollies, zero policy analysis, zero fact checking and zero value. Welcome to Post Truth Media.
Early life Australia
If you have made it this far, please the read that story I wrote for Webdiary back in 2003. (Mate, where is my country?)
As much as I loved re-reading that piece again, there was a distinct change in tone from positive, warm and passionate about Australia, my adopted country, to distress at what I thought the Howard Government was doing to it.
One aspect I want to add to my experiences of Australia was the feeling of liberation in being able to call your boss by his or her first name. Breaking down the barriers between people in authority and staff adds a personal dimension to the relationship. This in turn may help in team building, loyalty and mutual respect.
There are not many countries in the world, where it is easier to set up a business. I have been involved in a few startup companies and the ease with which you can get up and running in a new business is remarkable. It is a dream come true for serial entrepreneurs.
Back in 1994 to 2000, I was working as a Digital Producer for a Business Communications company dealing with high profile corporate clients with big budget projects. We worked on exhibitions, museums, first use of live web broadcasting of company AGMs all the way to internal Business TV for Big Banks. My main client was Fairfax Media, managing their Fairfax Newspapers on CD ROM project which were sold to schools, universities, businesses and libraries.
Together with the then Art Director and best friend, I had worked on some smaller freelance web projects, and after we brought in a sales guy to sell our skills and services, our old jobs were made redundant. We formed a publishing company called Smedia, and as technical director I helped it become an industry-recognised digital publishing house. My biggest coup was getting my previous client at the business communications company, big corporate Fairfax Media, to come across to Smedia.
During my time at Smedia, I successfully delivered major contracts for clients such as Woolworths, The West Australian Newspapers, Allied Press NZ, The Star Malaysia, Sing Tao Hong Kong, SMH, AGE, BRW, AFR, Property Press NZ and ACP.
Bringing in the now commonly used Digital Edition format was a major effort in terms of market education requirement. Interestingly, I was selling this still novel concept of online Digital Editions to Fairfax already in 2004. It took until 2006 for them to finally make a decision and adopt the online format. It just goes to show how slow the Fairfax Mother ship moves. Are we surprised they are in trouble?
During that time, I also co-founded the online business Findacarpark, a novel car parking portal for renting, buying and selling private car parking spaces.
I met interesting and genuinely inspiring people in business. I have also met a few sociopaths along the way. They seem to pop up more in business, because that’s where their anything goes and no scruples attitudes are highly sought after in the dog eat dog corporate world. I have worked and still work with Liberals as business associates, colleagues and clients. I get on really well with all of them. Politics is rarely discussed in any depth or seriousness.
Business is about solving problems, making money and building a life for yourself and your staff. Politics should not interfere when you do business and this is why I have always tried to keep the two separate. Why let politics interfere with making money from Liberals?
I have sold the two businesses mentioned above in 2010 and now run a few other online ventures in various back and foreground roless, again with a combination of Liberal and Labor partners.
The project that I am most excited about is AFHP. Being a news and politics junkie, it gives citizen journalists like me and others a platform with a highly credentialed former investigative journalist like Margo Kingston to pursue the stories that the mainstream media refuses to cover or follow up for whatever reason.
The gatekeepers have lost the key and are suffering a disconnect with their audience and the public, and there is a need and a huge gap that must be filled. Technology facilitates good quality journalism filling the gap. How about we start with: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Australians for Honest Politics was started and based around Mr Abbott’s “Australians for Honest Politics Trust”. Margo, in a moment of inspiration, reclaimed the words “Australians for Honest Politics” from a covert, behind the scenes operation to an open and transparent citizen journalism project that covers the issues the mainstream media likes to forget. The title perfectly captures what we set out to do and is also a constant reminder that the Hanson Slush Fund scandal really did happen. There are still serious questions that remain unanswered by the AEC and Mr Abbott.
Finally, can we also put to rest once and for all the childish and repetitive Liberal attacks on me of being a paid Labor staffer. I am not an academic, a public servant, a staffer or a member of any political party. I do not get paid to tweet. I do not take or give instructions from anyone or to anyone. I am my own person using the poor man’s megaphone – The Twitter. Everything that’s not fit to print.
You have made it this far? Seriously?
OK, The Geek who tweets as @geeksrulz is Tony Yegles, a proud dad of 4 daughters and a serial entrepreneur who has been destroying the joint in Australia since 1987 and in Europe before that.
Disclaimer for completeness: I run a digital media services company which provides consultancy and development across ecommerce systems, content management systems, search engine optimisation, internet marketing, email marketing, web development, web hosting and social media training courses. I also specialise in digital publishing solutions for publishers, including digital editions for newspapers, catalogues and magazines. My company is 100% owned by me, has never provided any services to any political party, and is not affiliated or linked in any way to any other third party entity.
This is the Geek, but you can call me Tony now.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children. We’re all in this together. Let’s fight the good fight.
The Slipper diary entries
1. What information regarding the diaries did you receive from Ashby?
2. What dates did it cover?
3. Why did you want the information?
4. What use did you make of the information?
5. Do you consider it ethical to gain unauthorised access to someone’s else’s diary?
6. What action would you have taken as a sitting MP if your diary was stolen and given to a political rival?
7. Have you had any contact with the AFP since the judgement?
Personal help for Ashby and Doane
8. Did you discuss getting employment for Ashby and Doane?
9. What steps did you take to assist them?
10. Did you know Ashby or Doane before they began working for Mr Slipper?
Dealings with Ashby
11. What did Ashby tell you re any possible legal action against Slipper?
12. Why didn’t you advise Ashby to follow standard and correct HR procedure if he felt he was being harassed?
13. What contact have you had with Ashby, his lawyer, agent or anyone else connected with the Court case since the judgement?
14. Do you believe Ashby is an honest person, and if so on what basis? Read the rest of this entry »
The WordPress helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual stats report for AFHP. We started in early December 2012.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.
These are the posts that got the most views in 2012. You can see all of the year’s most-viewed posts in your Site Stats.
- 1 Tony Abbott’s unholy dealings with the AEC 3 COMMENTS December 2012
- 2 From Watergate to Ashbygate – Front Pages on Slipper Scandal. 0 COMMENTS December 2012
- 3 Timeline for #AshbyConspiracy & Questions for an #AshbyInquiry 0 COMMENTS December 2012
- 4 The media now operates with all the subtlety of a Pugilist. 2 COMMENTS December 2012
- 5 Abbott faces questions over Hanson slush fund 0 COMMENTS December 2012
In 2012, there were 14 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 24 posts. There were 7pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2 MB.
The busiest day of the year was December 5th with648 views. The most popular post that day was Tony Abbott’s unholy dealings with the AEC .