More questions than answers after Adelaide #MarchInMarch: @WorsleyTrevor reports

Grace Hill addresses the Adelaide March in March rally.

Grace Hill addresses the Adelaide March in March rally.

Story & Photos by Trevor Worsley  @WorsleyTrevor  

23rd March 2014

I am not a political activist.

I have never been to a protest or demonstration of any kind.

I had long considered myself a swinging voter, trying at each election to make decisions based on issues and not slogans or political spin.

Gradually, over the past few years, I have been becoming disengaged with the political process in this country. This is, in the main, because both sides of politics seem to be less and less interested in the things that matter to the grass roots of the community and much more interested in playing ideology wars with their opposing number. Most people I associate with feel very similar. Cynicism with the major parties seems commonplace.

Despite many thousands of people giving up their Sunday afternoons in an attempt to be heard, why have the marches been either derisively dismissed or kept at at distance?

I heard, via Twitter, about the March in March events occuring around the country and thought I would go along to the Adelaide event and see what the fuss was all about. Perhaps there would be some photo opportunities as well.

It was a very interesting gathering to say the least.

Between two and three thousand people, possibly more, gathered in front of Parliament House on North Terrace. The majority of them seem quite angry with the current government, not something all that new.

What really surprised me was the range of issues that were being protested, from coal seam gas fracking, to offshore processing of asylum seekers; dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park; roll back of World Heritage listings; and funding cuts to education, social welfare and Aboriginal welfare. All voiced with great passion.

diversityAnother eye opener was the diversity and number of people that I spoke to that had never attended a protest of any kind before but felt moved to do something. I spoke to one woman that was doing a 450 kilometre round trip for the day just to attend. Another would do 250km before she got home that evening.

It takes strong feelings to motivate people to make that sort of effort, especially for a first attendee.

There were speakers from all walks of life. No surprise that they should be passionate and they certainly were.

I left at the end with as many questions as when I arrived.

Despite the anti-Coalition feeling of the crowd, why no Labor or Greens speakers?

Why no coverage from mainstream media?

Why so many people that had never protested anything before?

How many more people might have attended but were not users of social media?

Despite many thousands of people giving up their Sunday afternoons in an attempt to be heard, why have the marches been either derisively dismissed or kept at at distance?

How do these voices get heard? We live in a democracy right?

In the days following the March in March events there has been almost no reporting, in any type of media, of the turn-outs or the issues people were trying to raise.

Why is that?

From where I stand it looks like there will be no answers to any of these questions from any of the major political players any time soon.

No wonder so many people feel disenfranchised with our major parties.

No wonder so many people feel like there is no longer an option but to go out in the streets.


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Comments

  1. I posted on By Michael Burge @burgewords Article ( http://nofibs.com.au/2014/02/02/publish-button-killed-media-burgewords-comments/) that I thought that Main Stream Media were killing themselves by poor journalism. Michael argued that the ability for anyone to publish was the culprit. I think this article ( nicely written thank you ) adds to my argument, the MSM are not writing for the average Australian person any more. My two cents worth.

    Long Live nofibs!

    • Hi Watching, thanks for the comment and the link to my article. I sub-edited Trevor’s article this afternoon, and I agree, it’s a perfectly good piece of writing. It differs from classic journalism in that it poses plenty of questions which remain unanswered. To get those, some investigation would be needed. When Trevor asked me for feedback today that’s exactly what I told him.

      The quality of the writing may add to your argument, but the reality of how the piece got to you today will bring it crashing down. That took Margo to source it and encourage an untrained writer to file it (no mean feat, I assure you!); me to shape it up and publish it on the site (time out of my precious weekend!); in addition to Trevor’s work putting the words together and showing up to get the pictures, which are some of the best I have seen of all the March in March shots.

      The only participant in this process who made some dollars was the blogging platform who set up The Publish Button I hit to send the article to our readers. The button you pressed to make your comment set off an algorithm which gave them more hits to sell to more advertisers.

      The mainstream media has tried, failed, and struggled to compete against that relative ease. Think about it: no ink, no paper, no print floor, no transport costs, no journos to pay … no problem!

      Advertising revenue is drying-up up for most mainstream titles, because advertisers get more bang for their buck in the social media, and this has resulted in the widespread casualisation of media jobs.

      I did not write in my piece that journalism is dead, I wrote that the traditional media is dead. There is a very big difference and there are many reasons, my assertion is just one, but it’s the one which shocked me the most and is the hardest to come to terms with.

      Plenty of March in March participants believe the media’s lack of reporting on the event is due to some conspiracy, but it has more to do with the reality: newsrooms are not heavily staffed during the working week, let alone weekends, apart from young tech-savvy geeks (paid a pittance) who upload what they can paraphrase from 24/7 news feeds full of paid content to go with the footage and pics the weekend camera ops have captured. Meanwhile, the few seasoned journos left are off for the weekend because they don’t get paid like they used to.

      I know it’s a fine point to “get” that we have done this to ourselves, we struggling journos and we readers starving for good content, by hitting The Publish Button and its equivalent, The Comment Button.

      A tickle of The Donate Button might make what No Fibs has delivered to you, across two solid weekends, more than “two cents’ worth” on your part, Watching.

  2. Greetings Michael, you make a compelling argument, but you haven’t quite got me over the line yet.You have made many good points, but, many news papers have also gone “online”, and yet people don’t seem to be flocking to pay for that either. (I have no evidence for that statement, other than inferring from what Murdoch and Fairfax have said about their financials).
    I assume that it is because the public can get their news from other ‘free’ sites, or as you proffer, they can hit the publish button. I personally would happily still buy papers, the Age and the Oz were once my preferred reading many years ago, but, as you can see, I think that the quality of those papers have seriously gone down hill. The reason being, it is mostly opinion and very little fact.
    I happily read opinion, provided they put their facts and logic in the same prose. Journalism improves when you cite facts, opinions are more measured when you have to justify them with facts, for reasons I hope are self evident.
    So I accept your arguments just on costs of generating print media vs online publishing. I accept that it is difficult to make a decent income from journalism now. I think you can get my email from my login, send me the BSB and Account numbers, and I will happily support Nofibs.com.au, I do not use paypal (sorry). I do support other online news sites financially, if their journalism is good. This site is good.
    I am happy to leave this discussion at this point, I really can’t disagree with you, I just think that MSM are not doing themselves any favours, and this story is an example of why.
    I am curious whether Nofibs have an opinion on whether we all will be in a 24/7 environment, where penalty rates are redundant. The current narrative is that people expecting to have permanent, well paid positions is the reason for many companies struggling in Australia, businesses should be fighting back and driving wages down. Maybe Murdoch and Fairfax Journo’s should stop unionising and accept lower wages ( tongue in cheek ). But maybe journalists need to accept low paid positions?
    Sorry to use Trevor’s piece for this discussion, it was a delight to read, and was a good example of journalism, where as Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, Tory Sheperd and Jaquline Mayle (just to name a few) decided that the March in March attendees were the great unwashed ferals, smelling of BO and Bong smoke and not so sugary communists.
    I assume they didn’t attend, so how did they arrive their opinions ?
    The MSM had a field day with the Convoy of No Confidence, so why the indifference to March in March?
    Trev’ is right, more questions than answers.
    Keep up the good work .. thanks!

  3. Kevin Rennie says:

    It’s not all bleak. Deutsche Welle has March in March with 9 photos:

    ‘In mid-March, an estimated 100,000 Australians took to the streets in capital cities across the country. They came from all walks of life to walk, or as it was, march against Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s leadership of the Liberal National Party coalition. The mostly left-wing protesters were unified in their approach to political debate: anger dressed as humor.’

  4. Theresa Hackett says:

    My spouse and I attended the Canberra march. It was the first time in my life I had attended a demonstration even though I am a lifetime left of centre voter. I can vouch for the fact the attendees were not a majority of looney lefties. There were people from all walks of life indicating the spread of discontent this government has engendered in its short tenure. And yes I was amazed no one from the Opposition or the Greens came out to support what was obviously a genuine demonstration of anger and dismay at the actions of the government. The one thing which came across to me was the feeling of impotency on behalf of the people. They feel as if there is no one, organisation or individual, to whom they can turn to redress what they feel are the injustices perpetrated since the inception of the current government.
    This is a failure of our democracy and is a dangerous development because impotency can lead to desperation and despair and who knows where that will end?

  5. Helen O'Connor says:

    I also attended the Adelaide rally and I was a bit disappointed. The venue meant standing packed in like sardines in front of Parliament House, flanked by friendly police on one side and hostile Happy Clappies waving their hateful anti-gay banners on the Eastern side. There was nowhere to sit down, for those of us over 60 and no real opportunity to stretch the stiff legs with an actual march. Hint to organizers if you want a rally in Adelaide pick one of the squares or Elder Park but if it’s called a March have a march. I was glad I attended anyway but I was half expecting a scuffle with the ignorant god botherers. I felt like slapping a few of them myself.

  6. The really interesting thing is that the marches occurred. A range of complaints were aired, even though the MSM chose to emphasise only the more controversial placards. So Lyndon Morley made a strong point. It went well with the flurry of well-aimed blows delivered by Scott Ludlam.

    The MSM is struggling to survive. So many journalists are moving from one newspaper to another, trying to find a secure place. But in the independent media the really important things are being said. Add the social media and we have a wide-reaching set of tools

    Marches can make strong statements. Perhaps we need a bit more than marching and carrying placards and listening to speakers who might not represent the politicians as much as we would like. But a series of well-organised marches would give Abbott pause to think that such marches are about more than St Patrick’s Day.

    There is plenty of ammunition available to present to the Coalition. Sally McManus’s list of lies, gaffes, dud policies, backflips and misinformation now numbers more than 100. The placards in the marches were numerous and wide-ranging.

    And criiticisms come from overseas: ‘Fossil Award’ at the Warsaw climate change meeting;, Indonesia, UNHCR and Amnesty International on turning back the boats; World Heritage on Tasmanian forests and the Great barrier Reef.

    More recently, the IAREM scoring international economies, rated by the World Bank, IMF, Credit Suisse, tradingeconomics.com, Heritage Foundation et al, placed Oz, under Labor, number one in 2013. A big surprise for Joe Hockey.

    We need to remind Abbott of his incompetence daily..