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Last updated on July 26th, 2017 at 12:55 pm
“I’ve got total authority. I’ve got total power,” Margo Kingston tells Radio National’s Media Report. “This is my Webdiary; this is Margo Kingston’s Webdiary.” She is Margo; hear her roar! The unemployed Canberra resident explains why she’s now the totally powerful operator of a Typepad site:
Fairfax’s actions involved a breach of a three-year contract to write, edit and produce, publish Webdiary, so the decision was terribly hard because I’m now penniless, and operating on a dream, and I haven’t got any skills in marketing or revenue or business management or anything like that. So it was a decision that I really, really wish I didn’t have to take. I’ve been through my grieving process about leaving Fairfax, and I’m looking forward now, but I believe that Fairfax incorrectly understood the nature of the new interactive mediums …
They were paying me 48-grand a year gross. I’m working 90, 100 hours, and I’m a really senior journalist, I’m putting high-grade judgment in.
Shy, isn’t she? Part of that “high-grade judgment” was to devise a comments regime whereby comments weren’t merely moderated, but were edited. Margo had to hire people to help out, leading to this brilliant situation:
I was paying out two thirds of my contract payments to cope with the comments load.
Sheer genius. And what did Margo get for her money? Comments editor Kerri Browne—one of several employed by Margo—explains:
Most of the comments editors’ time is spent correcting the formatting of posts. It takes two mouse clicks to delete an abusive post, yet at least eight keystrokes to add the tags to bold the name of the person the poster is addressing.
That’s $32,000 well spent. Why, wonders Margo, didn’t Fairfax want to help?
It’s been a bloody awful year keeping Webdiary functioning in the absence of any assistance from Fairfax in streamlining an ever-growing comments load. Countless hours of volunteer work by Webdiarists and sub-contracting comments management to Jack Robertson kept us afloat.
Actually, it sent you broke. More from Kerri:
Between Margo, myself, Hamish, Roger, Craig, Polly, Russell, Caroline and guest others we read and edit every post that ricochets its way from you through the internet to the Webdiary comments list. And between you and me, there’s no other media mob in Australia I’d rather work at this crucial place in time.
Considering most of her time is spent merely adding bold tags, why wouldn’t she enjoy working for Margo? Back to the Media Report interview:
Richard Aedy: What I am wanting to know is how are you going to make a living wage out of this?
Margo Kingston: Oh well, I’ve deliberately avoided your question because I have no idea.
No kidding. She knows how to spend a living wage, though—buying bold tags! Towards the end of the interview, Margo launches into fantasy:
I’d like Tom Burton to leave Fairfax and be the CEO of Webdiary. And if he did agree to that, he was the person who made The Sydney Morning Herald online the greatest site in Australia when no one cared, including the suits. He’s the one who did it with band-aids, and great people. We could get a real visionary here who could actually take on the big boys if readers are willing to get together and fundraise, or some rich person comes along, or whatever, some foundation, and says, ‘We’ll give you some capital’, I could get two or three great journalists in the mainstream, who are just dying to do the work properly again.
Richard Aedy: Who would you want?
Margo Kingston: Well I’d want Tom, naturally, and I would want my sister, Gay Alcorn, former Washington correspondent for The Herald and The Age who’s now editing ‘Insight’ for The Age. I believe she’d come. I could offer her half her pay, she’d come, but I can’t even do that.
It will please Alcorn’s bosses to learn she so despises her current work she’d accept another job at half her current pay. Dream on, Margo:
If someone wants to give me a go, and put some money down, I could get a fantastic team, we can take them on, and we can get press gallery passes. The other thing I’m really going to do is develop groups on the ground around Australia to do their own community newspapers, do their own reporting, pull the local in with the main Webdiary, which is the national. I mean I want people all over Australia to connect on this and to learn from each other.
And to add the crucial bold tags!
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