Emerging democracy and the No Fibs Vision: @stephaniedale22 reports

Stephanie Dale

Stephanie Dale

Citizen Journalist at No Fibs
Stephanie Dale is a journalist and author with a background of 25 years in media, politics and publishing. Stephanie believes we need to find new ways of sharing our Earth, and making way for all its people, not just those privileged by the current economic system, and all its creatures - on their own terms.
Stephanie Dale
- 2 weeks ago
Stephanie Dale
I have two published books available - the novel Hymn for the Wounded Man and the travel memoir My Pilgrim's Heart, which was reviewed recently by the Huffington Post.

Coal & Gas map national 377KBBy Stephanie Dale

No Fibs – we’re a citizen journalism experiment emboldened by the success of our coverage in the 2013 federal election campaign. And we’re turning our attentions to the robust CSG movement that has emerged along Australia’s east coast.

It’s true. We’re upstarts, punching above our weight.

During the recent election we had around 25 citizen journalists – CJs – covering their local electorates around the nation.

We were the first media to understand that the Voice for Indi campaign, an organised, strategised community-driven bid to unseat the sitting Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella, was on the verge of success.

Being community-driven ourselves, we recognised our own.

Numerous No Fibs reporters monitored Indi closely.

Mirabella, who had held the safe seat for 12 years and was sitting pretty on a 9% swing, was in trouble – and No Fibs was there to put the emerging democratic movement in Indi on the public record.

In Indi, we witnessed people-driven, people-focussed democracy in action. And we realised that what happened in Indi could be a model for genuine democratic change in future elections.

What was so special about Voice for Indi?

Voice for Indi’s candidate Cathy McGowan attracted support from all political parties – Liberals, Nationals, Labor and Greens, as well as many people who had no previous political allegiance.

Many, many of the folk the mainstream parties thought they could rely upon to campaign on their behalf, attend polling booths and scrutineer, turned out for McGowan.

What does this have to do with the CSG campaign that has materialised along Australia’s eastern seaboard and is currently gaining ground in the north and west?

Everything.

The CSG campaign is the biggest grassroots movement to emerge in recent Australian history.

For the first time in a very long time, we have environmentalists lining up alongside farmers in a united cause that crosses economic, cultural, political and social divides.

The CSG campaign is organised, focussed and community-driven.

To use the language of bureaucracy, its peak body is the Lock the Gate Alliance, which was founded in 2010 to halt the spread of coal seam gas mines and whose inaugural democratic action was to urge farmers and landholders to ‘lock the gate’ against mining companies.

Their logo was – and is – a yellow triangle branded Lock the Gate, reminiscent of the iconic green No Dams campaign insignia that in 1983 saved Tasmania’s Franklin River from being dammed (what is it with Australian direct action and triangles?).

Its goal is a moratorium on coal seam gas mining until the scientific data that proves it is safe – for people, land, water, animals and indigenous cultural heritage – is in hand.

Given the apparent impact of coal seam gas mining on the Tara community in southern Queensland – including the invasion of steel (trucks, machinery, rigs) and 24 hour noise and light pollution, the health impacts locals believe are directly connected to CSG mining (including nose bleeds and headaches), the carving up of farmland and protected bushland for roads and rigs, dead and dying bushland, the dropping water table and water bores that can now be ignited (indicating the presence of gas in the water) – hundreds of thousands of people believe no such science is, or will ever be, available.

The experience of communities in the USA is similar to that experienced by Tara.

The mining companies are worried enough to rebrand CSG, preferring now to call it ‘natural gas’.

Lock the Gate is now an alliance of more than 160 local groups formed ‘to protect Australia’s natural, environmental, cultural and agricultural resources from inappropriate mining and to educate and empower all Australians to demand sustainable solutions to food and energy production’.

The success of Lock the Gate is simple really: communities are asking – what price profit? And whose profit?

Which brings us to No Fibs’ agenda.

We believe Australians are at a pivotal point for the future of community, mining and the environment in this country.

The decisions made now by our political representatives will decide once and for all whether and how mining rules our lives, and the costs we’re willing to wear for our land, our water and our communities.

No Fibs intends to deliver ongoing coverage of this historic moment.

And we’re calling for citizen journalists who are interested in reporting on this campaign – regardless of where you stand in the debate.

If you are pro-CSG, we welcome your news stories, feature articles and opinion pieces. We guarantee you respect. We do not publish abusive comments, ever. We also draw the line at personal wars between commentators, encouraging people to speak to the issue.

Over the last decade, as the emergence of the internet has amplified voices that once belonged in the pub, communities around the world have witnessed the deterioration of public debate – mainstream and grassroots.

We believe there is a need for middle ground, for media that operates in the space between tightly controlled mainstream media (MSM) and the open slather of thoughtless, ill-informed and even abusive comment.

No Fibs is a citizen journalism experiment.

So far we have four CJs on board to report on the CSG campaign. We’re waiting on stories from five more. And we’re open to anyone at all who’d like participate.

We are especially interested in having people report on campaigns in the region where they live.

To answer a common question about citizen journalism – are there standards?

The No Fibs answer is ‘yes!’

No Fibs’ CJs agree to abide by the following standards we have set for our coverage of the CSG campaign:

* an agreement to abide by the MEAA Journalists’ Code of Ethics, most specifically a commitment to accuracy, respect and fair play

* a willingness to engage in media training

* understanding that all stories are edited by professional journalists.

Writing a news story is like writing a country music song – deceptively simple.

Consequently, our CJs are offered guidance about the art of writing any or all of our news formats (news, features, opinion).

No Fibs is an exciting new addition to the Australian online media landscape.

It’s an adventure – and anyone who’d like to try their hand at reporting for a credible new media player is welcome to participate.

The social media feedback we’ve had so far has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic – clearly there is a need in the Australian media landscape for the No Fibs vision.

Interested?

Contact us.

We’d love to welcome you aboard the most exciting, progressive media to emerge in Australia in the 21st century so far.


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Comments

  1. Cathy MCGowan should exercise extreme caution for the next three years. The dirty tricks staffers of the LNP and Murdoch will be using every piece of nastiness they can dream up to bring her down. They dont like their favorite sons and daughters being defeated in this manner.

  2. Ruth L Innisfail says:

    Movements like this are solid gold.
    Good luck.

  3. journalism is in a state of flux, and no one knows what operating models will work in the future. citizen journalists can look to some of the experiments and new ventures being trialled and tested all over the world for pointers and inspiration;
    http://www.davidbauer.ch/2013/10/20/an-unfinished-list-of-ventures-in-journalism-you-should-be-watching-and-why/

  4. Hey Stephanie,
    Could you please link the image you used in this article to its original location/producer, Lock the Gate, rather than to your profile. Thanks.