Citizen Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘Sydney Morning Herald’

Building Bridges

In AFHP, Fairfax, Margo Kingston, MSM on February 23, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Margo Kingston

Margo Kingston

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 AgeThe 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“.

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 »

Independent media must take Fairfax’s place

In Fairfax, Margo Kingston, MSM on February 11, 2013 at 2:27 PM

266646-120619-smh-greg-haywood

By Margo Kingston
Source: ABC The Drum
June 25th 2012

So, it’s finally over. Although it has been coming for a long time, really. What happened last week was just the full stop.

Decades of mismanagement and executive asset stripping now sees Fairfax on its knees, bending to Gina. And there is the real prospect that hard copies of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will cease.

What next?

It is not on to have one big newspaper group in Australia. Fairfax hasn’t done the job of serious, gutsy competition for years, but at least it was there. Now that Murdoch has just bought the excellent online ‘Business Spectator’, that refuge for top Fairfax business reporters and analysts, that vehicle for getting the truth out about Murdoch is no more.

And where’s the protest at the prospect that he will control Foxtel by buying out Packer’s stake? He nearly got a similar prize in the UK until The Guardian finally broke through on phone hacking.

The challenge is much broader than Murdoch, of course. We’re going to be losing many, many journalists, and that means fewer competitors at the micro level. For example, there will be one film critic across Fairfax. And presumably one environment reporter, etc, etc. That gives enormous power to the few now covering special topics, in one way. In another way, though, it weakens their power, because if the boss puts the kybosh on a story, there’s no risk it will be broken elsewhere.

And with Fairfax, a creature of Gina or at best an online-only tabloid site, the ABC comes under enormous threat. What would an Abbott government do to funding? Think John Howard in 1996. Remember Murdoch lobbied hard in Britain to cut funding to the BBC. Without a well-resourced, strong ABC, there is no scrutiny. Just one agenda setter.

All in all, an awful state of affairs for Australia and our democracy. So what is the solution?

The way I see it, the various independent online media groups need to get together, pool their resources, and step up to become a genuine media alternative to Murdoch and the dregs of Fairfax. Media academics could also be around the table.

It will take real money, and as I’ve long argued, the best model is a trust with sufficient capital to finance a long-term project of creating the new Fairfax. I’d like to see Crikey, the Global Mail, New Matilda, and Online Opinion come together. And the best specialist bloggers need to be under the umbrella. Read the rest of this entry »