Friday, September 23, 2005
“SHE WAS CALLED MARGO KINGSTON”
Margo’s move to Webdiary was in itself already something to take note of, and her separation and independence of Fairfax is something which I imagine will still be discussed in journalism courses in 50 years time, if we still run them in Australia.
Let’s fast forward to that time, 50 years from now.
A child asks: “Dad, what is a newspaper?” Dad obligingly answers, and says: “Well, you remember the trees that were chopped up for paper long ago as you learnt at school? When that still happened, many of the beautiful Australian trees were chopped up to make real cheap paper, and every day all the news that now comes in on your school palm top and on mummy’s laptop, was printed on fat bundles of that cheap paper. That’s what newspapers were until the government stopped doing that and gave people big fines for wasting paper.”
The child then asks: “When did that paper wasting stop?” And Dad goes: “Well, there was this woman journalist, and she started the first newspaper without using paper in Australia. And soon every person who had a computer got the summary of the articles on their PC every morning in their newsreader program, while the sales of printed newspapers kept going down and down until all the big fat companies around the world went broke. Remember the little photo you can click on to read all the news on your school palmtop? That’s the picture of the woman who started all this. She was called Margo Kingston.”
UPDATE. Margo receives some helpful promotion from Stephen Bennetts in The Australian:
In Australia, engaging with civil society may involve membership of a local parent-teacher association, the Australian Conservation Foundation, a refugee rights group or participating in Margo Kingston’s web diary, Your Democracy.
Unhelpfully, Margo abandoned Your Democracy not long after writing this:
I have employed my brother Hamish for a year to get the website going. I hope that at the end of that year, our site will be such that people will want to “subscribe” to allow it to continue and grow, although the site will remain open to all.
I want the site to develop through a transparent process with maximum reader involvement. So if you’re on our mailing list be prepared to be asked lots of questions, and there’ll be a section on the site for reader’s ideas, complaints and queries. I take full responsibility for the site’s content, and will make the final decision, after advice from the yourdemocracy board, when there’s a major disagreement.
Your Democracy—which Margo hoped would become an Australian version of MoveOn.org—now staggers along in the hands of a few unreadable dead-enders. Hamish hasn’t posted anything since July; Margo gave up in May.