Voyage to the new news world: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on online media

Margo Kingston asked me to kick-off a new series on No Fibs about the experiences of citizen journalists working with professional journalists in online media. Here is my response. A WEEK after the 2013 federal election I was driving to my casual sub-editing job on a Fairfax weekly newspaper when I let a brilliant photo opportunity go. During the campaign I’d had to pass a vast billboard of our electorate’s returned sitting member, Andrew Laming, along that route. But on that day, Laming’s face was burning into black ash as a farmer torched his latest crop’s stubble. It was one of those moments when your mind takes the shot, writes the story […]

Call an end to HIV/AIDS weasel words: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #AIDS2014

THE world has been watching Melbourne this week as the city hosts the 20th International AIDS Conference. Despite initial reports from the event focusing understandably on the delegates killed by the missile attack on their flight over eastern Ukraine, the conference agenda hit the airwaves visibly on this week’s episode of QandA. As a result a range of new and unfamiliar language has been presented to mainstream and social media audiences. From ‘Sero-Discordant Relationship’, ‘PEP’, ‘PrEP’, ‘TasP’, ‘ART’ and ‘PMTCT’ to phrases like ‘heteronormative’ and ‘men who have sex with men’, Australians have been getting a higher-than-average dose of HIV/AIDS-related vocabulary. Unfortunately the word use is not coming with enough interpretation. ‘Conference-style’ […]

Thorpie did not have a Sweet Sixteen: @burgewords #CreatingWaves for @IanThorpe

  I WASN’T going to write about Ian Thorpe’s coming out. What more can there be to say about this moment in his life, which has huge ramifications for him but should have none for us? But then I read one article which got me angry, the kind of piece I’d hoped to avoid but which I knew would surface: the ‘Ian Thorpe Lied To Us’ type article. I also wanted to watch the interview he gave to Michael Parkinson before forming too many thoughts. The only unexpected moment was when ‘Thorpie’ recalled being asked about his sexuality at the age of 16. Parkinson picked-up on Thorpe’s affront at this and ran with it, […]

A Murdoch-free household is a galaxy too far: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #NewsCorp

  NEWS sites are getting harder to access for free of late. Paywalls are up and apparently profitable for News Corp and Fairfax. Crikey had one for years and recently Wendy Harmer’s flagship site The Hoopla shut the gate on free reads with its 34 cent per day subscription. Media-hungry online consumers are faced with a choice about where to get value for our money, but despite there being much more on offer than the old Fairfax vs Murdoch choice, the landscape is still dominated by these two big players. This doesn’t matter if we’re not interested in reading anything published by the mainstream media. After all, progressive digital online media consumers have standards, right? The coffee […]

Opera, give it to me straight: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on @Tamar_Iveri

Amid the ongoing flurry about Georgian opera singer Tamar Iveri and the comments she made in the social media about a protest march in Georgia on International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) in May, 2013, there is an assumption the soprano is just one homophobic voice in an accepting international opera industry, an aberration who must be silenced. In an open letter to her country’s president, the singer compared gay people to “fecal masses”, a description picked-up by the social media ahead of Ivari’s scheduled performances for Opera Australia this year. While I believe it’s hypocritical of her to court Western dollars for her performances while condemning Western values which have attained mainstream followings, like […]

France, a country driven by différence: @burgewords #CreatingWaves

  It’s safe to assume our Treasurer Joe Hockey would not have enjoyed a trip to France with Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier this month. There’s just too many wind turbines across the French landscape. Hockey would have been offended every few kilometres. I should know, I spent hours admiring the French commitment to clean wind-generated energy as endless, slender, spinning white needles slid past on my high-speed rail journey into the heartland of the country’s southwest. There is no doubt in the Lot they know that they’ve got, culturally and environmentally, and they are busy protecting it. In the region known as the Lot (with its capital Cahors), massive forests […]

Ballerinas and blue pole dancing: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #Budget2014

  I have never paid much attention to the fallout of budget week, simply because the Arts are always sufficiently financially knocked-around long before the Treasurer makes our economic disenfranchisement official. If a body like The Arts Council or Screen Australia were to be closed, that would register. Hearing they’ve had cuts only blends into the usual budget week white noise. Many artists subsist on a combination of incomes derived from our arts practice and our day jobs, spreading the risk between catering and painting, or admin and acting, like artist friends of mine; or journalism and writing, as I do. This means we can absorb multiple knocks and bonuses across […]

Stand up, citizen journalists: @burgewords comments on #FairfaxStrike

  A very simple tweet went out on the same afternoon Fairfax journalists agreed to strike in protest at the company’s plan to cut 80 jobs, mainly in production (layout and sub-editing) and photography. Since the current Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) hearing will continue through the strike, a citizen journalist (‘CJ’) asked whether any CJs were available to cover today’s ICAC events in lieu of Fairfax. After all, the hearings only get more interesting with every new day. Any citizen journos in Sydney that can cover #ICAC tomorrow? @margokingston1 @NoFibs @burgewords — Margaret O'Connor (@MargaretOConno5) May 7, 2014 I was mentioned in the tweet, so got swept-up in the […]

Try stopping the bleeding hearts: @burgewords #CreatingWaves

There’s no use beating around the bush: The Abbott Government has stopped the boats. I am arts columnist for No Fibs, and I probably should be writing about the Arts. However, like many artists in Australia at the moment, I am experiencing plenty of distractions of the political kind. I find it difficult to focus on creative expression while we have thousands of innocent people locked up in Australian detention centres, their images and stories used very creatively as propaganda to prevent others following in boats from Indonesia. When I come up for air from my writing schedule, I see a nation in a state of fear. Fear about money, […]

Visiting concentration camps in Utopia: @burgewords interviews @GGeorgiadisRN on ‘that’ comment the DIBP didn’t like

  The Australian twittersphere freaked out when refugee advocate @VanessaPowell25 was threatened with legal action by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) earlier this month. Unless she removed a post on her Facebook, which documented one moment at a protest outside the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney’s Western Suburbs, the DIBP would “consider our options further”. Public servants tweeted about looming changes in policy on the use of social media for political critique, and warned the Abbott Government’s $4.3 million in contracts for research companies to trawl the social media, ostensibly to seek “perceptions”, was actually the force behind ‘dob in a mate’. Talk of tweet deleting did […]