Citizen Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘Margo Kingston’

Ethics overboard: How to promote integrity in the moment of choice

In Democracy, Fifth Estate, Journalism, Margo Kingston, Media on May 19, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Capture_2013_05_19_16_39_51_112

By Margo Kingston
January 14, 2003

MARGO: With all the talk about stronger shield laws for journos, I think we are edging ever closer to needing an answer to the question: What is a journalist? We cannot argue for special protections and exemptions from privacy laws unless we can distinguish ourselves from non-journalists. To me the essential requirement is commitment to a genuinely accountable code of ethics, yet this is still just a dream. I gave this speech to a 2002 corruption prevention conference in Sydney, and reckon my idea is still relevant to the debate. I will run several pieces covering different aspects of the ‘What is a journalist’ question in the hope of genuine discussion on this vexed and increasingly urgent issue given the rise and rise of new media.

Ethics overboard

by Margo Kingston, September 2002

When you think about ethics, by which I mean ‘professional standards of conduct’, your starting point has to be your own.

Just after I started work in the big smoke of Sydney many years ago, the Herald chief of staff told me in confidence that the paper was sending a reporter posing as a prospective student into a Sydney high school to report on the youth of today in today’s public education system. The editor was to pretend to be his father when enrolling him, but was too busy to do so. Could I pose as my colleagues aunt?

Weeks later, while the reporter was still at the school, another reporter stumbled upon the project and leaked it, resulting in political condemnation in the parliament and outrage from our readers and my colleagues. Thus I discovered that journalists in the journalists union were bound by a code of ethics.

This was the first time I’d heard of it. I had a duty, personal to me, to tell anyone I was speaking to for a story what my job was, unless the matter was of such compelling public interest that I was duty bound not to. Everyone in my industry believed that this was not a case where the exception applied.

The shock of the incident marked the beginning of my deep interest in journalistic ethics. I thought about my role in relationship to my readers, and my duties to assert my professional ethics to avoid abuse of power by my industry.

I was trained as a lawyer, not a journalist. I knew my ethical duties as a lawyer: My duty was not only to the client but to the court, and I should never knowingly use as evidence material I knew to be false. So I don’t agree with the idea that ethics are instinctive in all cases. Written principles are required, and they need to be vigorously communicated as a matter fundamental to your career.

I believe the principles should be general, not particular, as particularity breeds legalism and the dangerous belief that technical avoidance equals compliance with ethical duty. Every ethical code should include not only the principles to which adherence is required, but the reasons why. For ethics, in the end, is about ourself in relation to other individuals and to our society.

The elites are in relationship with the people, and professional ethics – by accountants, lawyers, engineers, clergymen, architects – are constraints on abuse of power by the elites. A sellout of ethics for money, power, or survival, weakens the stability of the polity itself.

Example

In the early 1990s, a construction company sued an establishment Brisbane law firm for its costs in a prolonged Federal Court civil action. The firm had acted for a developer, since jailed, who instructed it to resist and delay an action for payment of a debt due for building a shopping centre by alleging fraud. There was no evidence for this accusation. The ethical duties of solicitors and barristers forbid them from pleading fraud without supporting evidence.

When the developer went into liquidation, the plaintiff bought its legal files for a pittance and sued the legal firm. The barrister involved was Ian Callinan QC, since appointed a High Court judge.

So, a former leader of the Queensland bar and a partner in Queensland’s best connected law firm were caught red-handed with their pants down.

The Queensland Law Society, a body backed by legislation to police the ethical standards required by solicitors, would not say whether or not it was examining the solicitor’s behaviour. It was confidential. And the society implied that it only acted on a complaint, not of its own motion. End of story. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Liberal Party’s war on freedoms: My reply to Brandis

In Brandis Remember This Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Ideology, Liberal Party, Margo Kingston on May 10, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Capture_2013_05_10_15_41_00_803

By Margo Kingston

May 10, 2013

But at least the debates about freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which we have seen in the past couple of years, have been a sharp reminder to the Liberal Party
of its historic mission. For in the freedom wars, there has been only one party which has stood steadfastly on the side of freedom.’ – Freedom Wars: The George Brandis speech

I used to be quite close to George. We were both small-l liberals, not surprising because we grew up under Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and studied law at Queensland University at the same time, a time of the right-to-march protests. For Queenslanders of our era, free speech and political freedoms are fundamental because we’ve lived under a government that didn’t believe in either.

George is a Menzies scholar, and I asked him why Sir Robert, a true believer in democratic values, had banned the Communist Party. I learned that he had tried very, very hard not to.

We fell out when he signed a stat dec denying he had called Howard a ‘lying rodent‘. I was shocked because I knew he had called him a liar and a rodent. Still am.

In retirement I eschewed anger, and was surprised how deeply angry I became while watching his free speech interview on Lateline. Luckily I’ve also learned not to write in anger, so I spent the week publishing extracts from my book which detail some of the relentless attacks on free speech and political freedom which were a hallmark of the Howard Government. That’s what the book is about, really, and that’s why, after voting Liberal in 1996, I became a Howard-hater.

How could George forget? I mean, he was one of those who fought Howard’s attempt to trample our freedoms in his anti-terror laws! How could he forget?

I think he has to forget because he has ditched his core values to survive in a Party which has slowly and surely eliminated the moderate, Menzies branch of the broad church. He has had to prove he’s not one of those limp-wristed small-l liberals any more.

The other reason for personal anger was his assertion that Bolt and Albrechtsen were the only journos who supported free speech. I have written about and campaigned for free speech all my working life, beginning with Labor’s attempt in the early 1990s to ban political advertising during elections. I have also opposed racial vilification laws on free speech grounds, and campaigned to maintain media diversity to protect free speech. It is true that many journalists, including me, support media reform  for reasons eloquently stated by Press Council chief Julian Disney (see here  and here).  We support reform because we believe in free speech, and the Brandis smear against journalists who want reform made me feel sick.

So, having sorted out the reasons for my personal anger, I planned to write a considered response to George today. This morning, before the bombshell news that Bolt and the IPA were asking Australians to donate to an IPA free speech fund, Google revealed that I had already done so.

My reply is a 2004 speech to the Sydney Institute, the same organisation which hosted George’s ‘freedom wars’ speech.

George, I am still a small l liberal. I guess you had to black out your party’s horrific free speech and political freedom record under Howard so you can sleep at night in your new skin. Good luck with that.


Not Happy, John! Reflections of a Webdiarist

By Margo Kingston
August 11, 2004

The day after Mark Latham was elected ALP leader by a whisker, I had a coffee with a Liberal MP stunned by his ladder-of-opportunity victory speech. “We’re in trouble,” he said. “Latham has updated Menzies’ ‘Forgotten People’.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Skull Beneath the Skin

In Brandis Remember This Freedom, Democracy, Freedom of Speech, Ideology, JWH & NGOs, Margo Kingston on May 10, 2013 at 9:48 AM
Created by Peter Nicholson NicholsonCartoons.com.au (http://nicholsoncartoons.com.au/east-timor-and-oil.html)

Created by Peter Nicholson NicholsonCartoons.com.au

By Margo Kingston
10 May 2013

In his Cry, Freedom speech this week, Shadow Attorney General George Brandis said this:

‘But at least the debates about freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which we have seen in the past couple of years, have been a sharp reminder to the Liberal Party of its historic mission. For in the freedom wars, there has been only one party which has stood steadfastly on the side of freedom.’

@NoFibs has disproved this claim – indefensible given the Howard Government’s record – in several pieces which detail just some of the relentless assaults on free speech and political freedom by the Howard Government. At all times Brandis was a member of Howard’s team, and a minister in the late years. See our ‘You must remember this, George’ archive.

A new chapter in the 2007 update of my book told the saddest, baddest, meanest story of the Howard Government’s intolerance for free speech which disagreed with it. It’s hard to believe unless you are cognisant of the anti-free speech values of neo-liberalism (see the IPA philosophical rationale in Howard’s blueprint for Abbott to stifle dissent )

In short, the Howard government signed a contract with a small East Timorese NGO to monitor human rights in local prisons. Before the contract, the group joined other local NGOs to sign a statement urging Australia to recognise international dispute settling bodies in the East Timor Sea oil dispute. When Downer was informed, he broke the contract and ordered his department to lie to the group about the reasons.

When the official told to lie, Peter Ellis, protested that this would breach the ethcial duties of public servants, his career was over.

Cry, Freedom.


The Skull Beneath the Skin

On 10 December 2004, the fifty-sixth anniversary of the world’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the horrors of  the  Second World War, Downer announced grants to ten NGOs in the Asia-Pacific. ‘Australia has a proud tradition of protecting and promoting human rights,’ he said. The Timorese NGO Forum Tau Matan would get a grant to ‘monitor and educate community groups and legal officials about prison conditions’.

Accordingly, on 25 January 2005, the senior AusAID diplomat in East Timor, Peter Ellis, made a written offer on Australia’s behalf of $65,830, which became a legally binding contract when Forum Tau Matan signed off on 22 February.

While organising local media coverage to hand over the cheque, Ellis saw the NGO statements on the internet. Acting on the orders he’d received when posted to Dili to note the Howard government’s ‘political sensitivities’ about funding NGOs, he scrupulously referred the statements to AusAID’s head office in Canberra. Downer was advised.

Downer hated NGO criticisms of Australia on the Timor Sea negotiations. In a BBC interview back in May 2004, he had complained of ‘hysterical and emotional and irrational claims’ and ‘a whole lot of emotional claptrap which is being pumped up through sort of left wing NGOs’. He meant Oxfam, which in the same month, on the second anniversary of independence, had released a report noting that ‘the Australian Government is reaping more than $1 million a day from oil fields in a disputed area of the Timor Sea that is twice as close to East Timor as it is to Australia . . . In total, Australia has received nearly ten times as much revenue from Timor Sea oil and gas than it has provided in aid to East Timor since 1999. Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom Wars: The George Brandis speech

In Brandis Remember This Freedom, Freedom of the Press, Ideology, Journalism, Liberal Party, Margo Kingston, Media Reform, MSM on May 9, 2013 at 6:22 PM
Liberal shadow attorney-general Senator George Brandis. Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Advertiser

Liberal shadow attorney-general Senator George Brandis. Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Advertiser


ABC Lateline Interview May 7, 2013

Margo: Well here it is, the Brandis speech on free speech he calls the Freedom Wars. It is not online, so Barry Tucker rang the Brandis office and obtained a copy. Thank you @btckr. I have a feeling I’ll want to write a response soon – my boiling anger at his @Lateline interview on the speech has just about subsided enough to safely have a go. (UPDATE: My reply to Brandis.)

Thursday 21 March – the last sitting day before Parliament rose for the Easter recess – will long be remembered as one of those days of frenzy and madness which infrequently, but memorably, punctuate the pages of our political history. It was, of course, the day of the famous leadership challenge that wasn’t. We will long remember Simon Crean’s stupendous press conference, as much as we remember the confused hours and bizarre outcome which it called forth. The political shenanigans of that day masked an event which was, in its way, even more consequential: the announcement earlier that morning by the Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, that the Government would not proceed with its attempt to create a statutory office of Public Interest Media Advocate – the most overt interference by an Australian government with the freedom of the press since Governor Darling’s (also unsuccessful) attempt to licence newspapers in the colony of New South Wales in 1825.

Just 24 hours earlier, the Attorney-General, Mr Mark Dreyfus, had announced that the Government was also abandoning another of its ill-conceived assaults on political freedom, the bizarrely titled Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, which famously – or perhaps I should say infamously – proposed to make actionable the expression of political opinions on the ground that they might be insulting or offensive to other citizens – and, for good measure, proposed to test that requirement by the subjective standard and with a reverse onus of proof.

That same morning, as Mr Dreyfus was announcing the government’s backdown on the Anti-Discrimination Bill, Mr Crean gave a little-noticed speech in the House of Representatives – although he did not know it at the time, his last Parliamentary speech as Arts Minister – introducing the Australia Council Bill. This Bill, currently before the Parliament, is the product of an extensive review of Australia’s principal arts funding body, whose operations have hitherto been governed by a Whitlam-era statue, the Australia Council Act of 1975. Although Mr Crean told the House that “the core principles of the Council … enshrined in the [1975] Act … are … retained by this bill”, there is one core principle which has disappeared entirely.[1] S. 5 of the existing Act defines the functions of the Australia Council as being to formulate and carry out policies designed, inter alia, “to uphold and promote the right of persons to freedom in the practice of the arts”. However, when one inspects the comparable clause of the new Bill, one discovers that the protection of artistic freedom has mysteriously disappeared from among the Australia Council’s core functions: a development not missed by the arts community themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

My Twitter interview with #Ashby’s media adviser

In Ashby Conspiracy, Margo Kingston on May 3, 2013 at 6:57 PM
James Ashby (left) with Anthony McClellan after the Federal Court ruling on December 12. Photo: Wolter Peeters, Fairfax

James Ashby (left) with Anthony McClellan after the Federal Court ruling on December 12. Their moneyman Michael Harmer stands behind.’ Photo: Wolter Peeters, Fairfax

By Margo Kingston

May 3, 2013

Mr Anthony McClellan followed me this morning, after I tweeted on the #Ashby appeal. His invitation to talk. So I threw him some questions and he threw me some answers. We’ve published the interview for the record here.

It is interesting that he chose to speak for Ashby lawyers Harmers on the $millions question of who is bankrolling Ashby’s case. The amount of damages awarded on court success could not cover the enormous costs involved, and perhaps not even the solicitor-client costs remaining if the Court ordered Slipper to pay party-party costs. Another mystery is why, if Harmers was carrying costs out of goodwill to poor Ashby, as claimed, perhaps tongue in cheek, by McClellan, the firm chose the most expensive and risky route possible to pursue his claim – an action in the Federal Court.

Rares judgement states that McClellan’s clients are Ashby and Doane, so why did he answer, at least in part, questions about Harmers’ funding? And what evidence does he rely on as the basis for his statements?

Naturally he chose to answer some questions and not others. He stated that he was retained by Ashby’s lawyer Harmers and has not yet been paid. He stated that Harmers were carrying the costs, and there were ‘no pledges’ of support from 3rd parties. He confirmed the truth of the Rares judgement concerning him.

Rares’ judgement states:

‘Mr Harmer recommended that Mr Ashby engage Mr McClellan as his media consultant to handle dealings with the media because Mr Slipper would be a high profile respondent in the intended proceedings. Mr Ashby and Ms Doane engaged Mr McClellan at $550 per hour plus GST on a no win no fee basis.’

These are the questions he chose not to answer:

Whether he could guarantee that no-one else would chip in funds to cover Harmer’s costs.

Who asked Harmers to take the job.

Why he agreed to deferred payment.

Journalist @MargaretSimons stands up to Oz intimidation, speaks out on media reform

In Journalism, Margo Kingston, Media Reform on March 19, 2013 at 6:02 PM
margaret-simons

Dr Margaret Simons – Centre for Advancing Journalism

By Margo Kingston,

March 19, 2013

I’ve known Meg Simons for more than 25 years. We met in the Fairfax Brisbane bureau in the late 1980s – she was The Age correspondent,  me a new recruit for the Times on Sunday. We covered the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and I learnt courage and persistence – and tried to learn detachment – from her. She’s since written novels,  investigative non-fiction on the Hindmarsh Island Affair, books on the Press Gallery and the media and a biography of Malcolm Fraser. She’s now an academic journalist at Melbourne University and writes on media for Crikey.

Meg is one of Australia’s finest journalists. She has also been a victim of intense, sustained intimidation by The Australian over her support for Finkelstein’s recommendations on media regulation and her disagreement with the paper on the merits of a power struggle in the Victorian Police force. Jonathan Holmes detailed aspects of  the bullying in Trivial pursuit: When The Australian gets personal. I’m told The Drum did not want to publish this piece for fear of flak from the Oz, and that Mark Scott personally cleared it for publication.

During its campaign, the Oz published a page one story falsely accusing her of  a form of corruption in the judging of a Walkley award. It refused to published a letter to the editor from former Oz editor Malcolm Schmidtke and former Sunday Age editor Gay Alcorn (my sister) which corrected the record.

When I had dinner with Meg and her children last November, she told me the Oz had staked out her home (CORRECTION: Meg has corrected my recollection – her children feared their home would be staked out after Meg was snapped by an Oz photographer at work). It’s my guess she’d be one of the people Press Council Chief Julian Disney had in mind when he said today that victims of ‘very bad abuses’ frequently would not lodge a complaint for fear of retribution.

Meg still has the courage to stand up for good journalism and good policy on media regulation. Here is her submission to the Senate media reform inquiry. She will give evidence at 6.30 tonight.

Kerry Stokes, free speech defender? Spare me

In Freedom of Speech, Journalism, Margo Kingston, Media Reform, MSM on March 18, 2013 at 3:11 AM
Kerry Stokes

Kerry Stokes

By Margo Kingston
March 18, 2013

I reckon it’s time for journos to start spilling the beans on the ‘free speech’ nonsense being spouted by big media. The big boys’ self-righteous, self-interested hypocrisy in the media reform debate is surely too much for any of us who care about the survival of our profession to stomach.

Today the Oz – of course – tells us Kerry Stokes will make a surprise appearance at the Senate hearings into the media reform bills ‘to denounce the bills and argue passionately in favour of a free press without government oversight’. The article lists all the heavies who will come to Canberra – they are a cabal on this, orchestrated by Murdoch’s boys – and explicitly threatens to campaign against the government right up to election day if they don’t get their way:

“The implicit assumption that by getting these bills through this week it means the debate will calm down is completely wrong and a fundamental miscalculation,” a senior media boss said. “It gives every media company in the country the incentive to keep campaigning on it right up to the election, and will strengthen the resolve of all the media companies to keep campaigning to make sure that if the Liberals get into power they honour their promise.”

They know and Labor knows Abbott will do their bidding if he wins office. Those quotes are code for telling Labor it ain’t seen nothing yet if they don’t back down. It’s crude, thuggish blackmail.

That’s how brutal they are. Who is running the country? Not voters, that’s for sure. Gillard has clearly had enough, and is going for broke. In an interview with Fairfax today, she said:

”Government in my view isn’t about looking at the powerful stake-holders and saying, how many can I get in my corner? Government is about serving the national interest and doing what the nation requires… I never expected people in the media to applaud any reform agenda because their agenda is looking at it through their eyes and what meets their needs rather than doing what I’ve got to do – stand back and say what meets the national interest.”

In this she echoes UK, Labor leader Ed Milliband, who has also put his career on the line to take a stand against big media bullies and demand serious accountability at last:

“Now we are at this moment which is a sort of crossroads: do we change or is it more of the same?”

The Observer reported:

Miliband says that now is the moment to break with the past, when “politicians were fearful of speaking out because they thought: ‘I’m going to get bad publicity, it will turn the press against me’.” He says that he believes the country is now “24 hours away from putting in place a system that I believe will work”, to ensure that the treatment meted out to the family of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, whose phone was hacked after she disappeared, and the parents of missing Madeleine McCann, can never be repeated. “I think it is an important moment because we have had decades of failing to ensure that we have a system of press complaints and redress which means that ordinary people aren’t left at the whim of a sometimes abusive press.

“Monday is the day that politics has got to do the duty by the victims and has got to stand up for the victims.”

If Stokes appears, I hope his bullshit bluster will be called and he will be asked about his free speech record (by the way, Stokes is not a man of his word and is gutless to boot). I personally know of a case where he dressed down a producer for allowing a tough interview on Murdoch because, he said, he needed to keep him onside. But there is a famous case of Stokes’ censorship on the record. Here’s an extract from a 1997 4 Corners program on Kennett’s culture:

Sally Neighbour: Last year in Melbourne, the most damaging story of Jeff Kennett’s Premiership came to a head in a drama that was made for television.

Archive, Today Tonight with Jill Singer: Hello and welcome to the program. Tonight we had planned to bring you a story about poker machine king Bruce Mathieson and a link with the Premier Jeffrey Kennett. Read the rest of this entry »

Last chance to rein in Murdoch

In Democracy, Fifth Estate, Journalism, Media Reform, MSM on March 16, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Created by George Bludger @GeorgeBludger via http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgebludger

Created by @GeorgeBludger via http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgebludger

By Margo Kingston
March 16, 2013

Here’s a history lesson on the long road to media dominance by Rupert Murdoch, aided by both big parties, via two chapters in my book. The Liberals said yes to Murdoch under Howard, and will keep saying yes. They are partners, or rather, Abbott is Murdoch’s puppet.

I also tell the story of how I lobbied minor parties to stop Murdoch’s law in the Senate in 2003, and describe Fairfax journalists’ long struggle to preserve our values of fearless independent journalism.

Murdoch papers’ incendiary reaction to Conroy’s reforms – led by Murdoch’s top executive in Australia Kim Williams – means Murdoch’s empire has something to lose. Two things, actually – less chance of even further dominating Australia’s MSM, and more chance of its journalism being just a little bit accountable to the ethics of journalism.

There is no chance the media reforms, weak as they are, will pass without strong action by citizens. Wilkie, Oakshott, Katter, Windsor and Thomson need to be convinced to negotiate with Labor to agree to a reform package they can sign up to and vote for quickly. They must understand that Labor has been crazy-brave to put up even this minimalist reform package, and that Labor must get this done quickly or bleed to death from Murdoch media’s relentless attacks.

Over to you. Apart from anything else, your NBN needs you.

UPDATE MARCH 17: Here are the key extracts from Conroy’s Insiders interview today:

Fixing Howard’s gift to Murdoch to become even more dominant

In 2007 the Howard government weakened our cross media laws that were introduced by Paul Keating. And we said from that day we would be campaigning to introduce a public interest test because we didn’t believe leaving the door open for further concentrations of media in this country were healthy.

I mean around the world: in the US, the top two newspaper groups cover about 14 per cent. Even in Canada, a country more akin to ourselves in terms of geography, 54 per cent coverage from the top two. In Australia it is 86 per cent coverage. We’ve already got one of the most concentrated media sectors in the world and we don’t believe it should be allowed to be shrunk any further.

Why self-regulation needs to be strengthened

I’ve been entertained by the claim that this is a solution looking for a problem. Well let me read you some quotes from evidence given publicly to the Finkelstein Inquiry. It may come as a surprise to you, Barrie, they didn’t get a lot of coverage in the mainstream media.

Let me read to you Professor Ken McKinnon who was a former chair of the Australian Press Council. He said: “I had an editor say to me if you promise not to uphold any complaints from my paper we will double our subscription, is that a deal?”

We have the current head, Julian Disney, he said: “The possibility of reduced funding remains a significant concern fuelled on occasion by the comments of publishers who dislike adverse adjudications or other council decisions. And the Council’s almost total reliance on funding from publishers, and especially from a few major publishers, is widely criticised as a crucial detraction from its real and apparent independence.”

And just finally, if I could, one more, another head chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor Dennis Pearce: “Indeed we had one period where The Australian newspaper did not like an adjudication we made and they withdrew from the council for a period of months”. And Mr Finkelstein asked: “Was that a direct consequence of the particular adjudication?” And he said: “It was indeed. They said our adjudication was wrong and they were not going to publish it, and they didn’t”.

So, people who want to argue … Read the rest of this entry »

My conversation with a Murdoch press release

In Freedom of Speech, Journalism, Media Reform, MSM, News Limited on March 16, 2013 at 7:35 PM
Created by George Bludger @GeorgeBludger via http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgebludger

Created by George Bludger @GeorgeBludger via http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgebludger

By Margo Kingston
March 16, 2013

https://twitter.com/margokingston1/status/312463108075573248 Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen journos unite!

In AFHP, Journalism, Margo Kingston, MSM, The Hanson Affair on March 15, 2013 at 9:01 PM

mpic

By Margo Kingston
March 15, 2013
Source: Sheilas

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:

Miranda Devine on “mummy bloggers” and the PM’

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:

Why Miranda on PM dinner, Helen? Why not run someone AT dinner? ‘mummy blogger’ sexist on IWD!‘.

Vigorous twitter talk ensued, and Helen asked for pieces – which she paid for – on why the phrase mummy blogger was not OK.

Mandy Lee wrote ‘‘Why I hate the term mummy blogger’ .

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 »