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Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Sadly, I am now wondering about the ‘future of fair dinkum journalism’ as portrayed by Margo Kingston and her newly independent Webdiary. When Margo first moved from SMH to set up shop on her own, I, as did so many others, applauded the move and bathed in the breath of fresh air that seemed to pervade the new world of people’s journalism and was excited about the future as I envisioned a truly global exponentially growing network of people bloggers that linked with one another via sites just like this new Webdiary. But now, I’m very much afraid to say, I am wondering if that applause was premature.

Within the bounds of decency and respect for one’s fellows, Margo provided a forum within which people of every political persuasion could vigorously exchange views, ideas and comments. Debates became often heated and diverged from the various thread subjects. Margo and her editors worked hard at editing postings to keep ad hominem views clear of much of this often over-heated and sometimes over-vigorous commentary without allowing the life to be sucked out of the essence of that commentary and those views.

Then the inevitable happened.

Someone from Margo’s much cherished right-wing complained of the nature of that commentary and the views of the left – with me being actually named by one of those that complained. Another that had complained had threatened not to be involved any more with Webdiary (though I notice that since I have been virtually excluded from taking any further part in Webdiary, that that person has since returned to the forum).

This is a great shame.

But what is even more of a shame is Webdiary’s apparent compliance with the right-wing’s demands for more temperate rhetoric from the left.

The result has been the censorship and heavy editing of much of the left’s more radical opinion and commentary – certainly, at least, of mine. The overall result is that Webdiary has caved in to the right for what seems to be purely commercial reasons. Margo has made no bones about the importance of right-wing commentators coming over to her new Webdiary after she shifted from SMH. Their move, Margo inferred, was crucial to the success of her new venture. With the success of the new venture in terms of political audience, will also come financial success – provided Margo can maintain the right-wing’s participation. What seems to be happening is that the left is being moderated, edited and, in my case, fully censored, out of fear of annoying the right to the extent that they leave Webdiary high and dry and without point.

I offered compromise which I thought would be acceptable. I suggested that Margo allow me to continue commenting as I have on Webdiary. If Margo continued to feel the need to censor and/or heavily edit to keep the right-wingers happy, then that’s fine – provided that Margo would link to this blogsite where I would post the full uncensored and unedited version of my post.

Hamish Alcorn, Margo’s brother and hard working editor, wrote back to me saying that he would take it up with Margo but was about to have a couple of days off. But in the light of further posts I have made being all but totally censored and without any explanation from Margo, who was clearly at the time sitting in the editor’s chair, I have no option but to accept that my views are no longer welcome by Webdiary.

A fine but short-lived experiment that has quickly degenerated into just another mediocre chat room for middle-class non-intellectual political centrists who haven’t a hope of bringing meaningful insight, let alone change, to a desperately anaemic Australian political landscape.