The panel fielding questions from the floor: L-R Margo Kingston, Candida Baker, Danielle Hughes Brown, Margaret Gleeson and David Donovan.

Some of Australia’s leading proponents of independent publishing put paid to the myth of a difference between “professional” and “citizen” journalism at a special community forum held in West End last night.

Margo Kingston (No Fibs), Candida Baker (Verandah Magazine), Danielle Hughes Brown (The West End Magazine), Margaret Gleeson (Green Left Weekly) and David Donovan (Independent Australia) joined Westender publisher Kerrod Trott to share their experiences in front of a passionate crowd at The Loft in Boundary Street, West End.

According to David Donovan, publisher of Independent Australia, “Whatever the format, or who’s paying, doesn’t matter, so long as it’s good journalism. The platform is irrelevant.

“Good journalism is simple: it needs to be fair, well written, and tell the truth,” said David.

Margo Kingston, who pioneered the concept of citizen journalism in Australia with Webdiary for the Sydney Morning Herald and subsequently her own No Fibs website, said, “Everyone with a smart phone is a citizen journalist.”

“In Twitter,” said Margot, “everyone has their own platform: a tweet is a micro-blog. Journalism is completely contestable at this time.”

All speakers agreed that no formal training was needed to produce good journalism, but stressed the need for all journalists – of whatever ilk – to follow a Code of Ethics such as that promoted by the MEAA. http://www.alliance.org.au/code-of-ethics.html

Danielle Hughes Brown of West End Magazine agreed, saying “`Whilst truth should always be the goal, even `good’ journalism is by nature subjective on some level. Readers should approach what they read with this in mind.”

Margaret Gleeson of the Green Left Weekly started as a “copy boy” and said that Journalism schools were a very recent phenomenon.

Margaret said that Green Left Weekly, which recently celebrated twenty-four years of continuous publication, could not have survived without the voluntary work of its contributors and supporters.

Candida Baker of Verandah Magazine, who has worked in senior jobs in journalism for many years including five years as editor of the Weekend Australian Magazine, told of her delight when, on commencing publication of her online arts and culture magazine in Byron Bay last year, she was inundated with offers of contributions from the local community.

“All news is local news,” said Kerrod Trott of the Westender. “The Westender has been fiercely loyal to the local community, and we’ve pursued issues of real local concern without fear or favour.”

Candida Baker did a great job of moderating the evening. Thanks, Candi.

Citizen Journalist Extraordinaire Jan Bowman tweeted the evening’s proceedings – follow Jan at @JanB_QLD

The Westender is extremely grateful to the panelists who gave up their time to attend, and to the audience who made it such an intriguing and informative event.


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