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Tag Archives: Social media

Tony Abbott’s media monitoring: we have a message for him

The recent headline in The Sydney Morning Herald –Abbott government spends up big on media monitoring – went on to tell its readers that:

Federal government departments are spending eye-watering sums to know what the public is thinking and what the media is saying about them . . .

Social media – in particular Facebook – was saturated with the story and subsequent howls of derision over such a costly and questionable exercise.

I disagree.

I want this government to spend as much time and money as it takes to monitor ‘what the public is thinking and what the media is saying about them’. They seriously need to know. They need to take a good look at what’s happening on social media – a long, hard look – where there are refreshingly honest opinions about how utterly incompetent, heartless and disgraceful they are (whereas no such critique exists in the mainstream media). They need to to look, listen, and learn. Thousands of social media users will tell them that this government is considered the closest thing to fascism seen in the free world, while personal attacks on Tony Abbott continue; notably suggestions that the man is a sociopath. While there certainly is no proof, it is understandable that such opinions exist given the behaviour of this government and its leader.

But if they do want to know what people outside the fluffy Murdoch media think, they can always start with this site.

Hundreds of articles have been published on The AIMN echoing what the public think of the worst government in Australia’s history – the Abbott government – and I’d l really appreciate that one or some of their minions take a look at us. Actually, I would implore them to. This site represents the political and social views of a large number of disgruntled Australians. Given the recent opinion polls and the noticeable stench of this woeful government, it would be safe to say we now represent the views of most Australians: ordinary people appalled by this mess, ordinary people appalled at seeing their country – to put it bluntly – go to crap.

However, to save them from rummaging through The AIMN (and similar sites), Facebook and Twitter I have compiled a summary of what I have found of them. I will address it to Tony Abbott personally.

Dear Tony Abbott,

Do you really want to know what the public is thinking of you and your government? After being heavily involved in social media since your election win I’ve come up with the following (based on thousands of comments I have read). This is what people are saying about you (with my own comments in italics):

  • You are a prime minister who displays breathtaking incompetence. The role of prime minister is far beyond you.
  • You are a prime minister who regularly embarrasses both yourself and your country on national and international stages.
  • You are a prime minister who shows more loyalty to the elite few ahead of the wider electorate.
  • You are a prime minister who has no interest in the opportunities of the future.
  • You are a prime minister who is out of touch with the majority of Australians.
  • You are an extreme radical.
  • You are a person who can’t sustain media and public scrutiny without ‘cracking’.
  • You are a habitual liar and back-flipper.
  • You are a person who is totally out of touch with reality.
  • You lack direction.
  • You are a prime minister who not only ignores that we belong in a global community, but also want to remain isolationist.
  • You are a complete idiot who cannot make a public appearance without being stage managed.
  • You have lied about everything that Australian people value: the ABC, pensions, Medicare, our security etc etc. You have lost the peoples’ trust.
  • The cruelty of your policies know no bounds, and the economic incompetence is breathtaking.
  • I agree with all of the above but I certainly don’t agree with this one: some people would like harm to come to you. I personally wish no harm of you and I deplore seeing such comments. I also deplored the calls from far right-wing radicals to have Julia Gillard shot, dumped out to sea in a chaff bag, or those – including yourself – standing under signs screaming ‘ditch the witch’. In what context does ‘ditch’ mean? Something sinister, I imagine. You didn’t appear too concerned about these particular threats which leads me to believe this is behaviour you tolerate. So it may come as no surprise that daily people are posting comments wishing you the same. They hate you that much, yet they chose to follow your lead in displaying hate. Again, I deplore those behaviors from any political persuasion.
  • For a couple of years now people have questioned the nuances of your relationship with Peta Credlin and the power she may wield as a result. Personally, I really don’t care about your private life, but the power she wields is questioned not only on social media but the mainstream media as well.
  • The question of your apparent non-renouncement of your British citizenship is gaining momentum. Quite a storm has developed. We may never find out the answer, but the consensus among thousands of people is that if you are not legally entitled to hold an office in the Australian Parliament, then you should be disqualified from receiving the parliamentary pension based on your years of service. Come clean!
  • This will surprise you: most Labor voters want you to stay on as prime minister until the election because you are considered Labor’s best weapon. Conversely, many disgruntled Liberal voters want you removed forthwith. No matter what people want, they do not expect you to be in the job by the end of June.

Have you heard enough? I could go on – there is so much more. And I haven’t even started on your ministers yet. But at this stage I won’t: people are saying many of the same things about them too.

What is independent media and should more people be switching to it?

media5One of my Facebook friends by the name of Corrine Harrison is Studying for her Bachelor Arts Politics/Communications at Charles Sturt University, Queensland. She recently wrote an essay about independent media. I thought it worthy of sharing on THE AIMN.

In a world where media oligarchies prevail, an increasing number of independent media outlets are flourishing. Without means of corporate investment advertising their products, nor the incentive of a political party bias, how is it that these ‘revealers of the truth’ beyond the commercial media propaganda, are continuing and maintaining their uprising? This essay discusses the past and present 4th estate model, it’s relevance to today’s society and why more people should switch to independent media for unbiased, impartial information.

Independent media comes in many forms. In recent years there has been a surge in social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs. This has seen a rise in public interaction with journalism outside of the traditional news delivery methods such as newspapers and television. The last two decades has seen a drastic reduction in media plurality. These merged corporations have a preference towards neo-liberal political ideals and their reports invariably reflect their political bias. Readers with alternative political and social values seek out impartial news providers with views and information more aligned with their own or at least offering an alternate opinion. The main feature of independent media is its impartiality and focus on reporting the full story based on facts and research. The overall aim is to ensure full disclosure of occurring events to keep the public genuinely informed. The impartial nature of independent media is also reflected in its ownership. A mixture of self-funding by the writer, philanthropic foundations and reader subscriptions ensure the ongoing circulation of many publications. Crowd-funding campaigns raise money from everyday citizens with a vested interest in stories or projects that may otherwise be overlooked (Weiss, 2014). With no corporate associations to cloud the judgement of the writer, articles are free of agendas beyond the reported details of the story.

Whilst not commercially dominant, independent media secures its voice by providing current news in an unbiased way. It offers a sound and trustworthy platform, largely due to the reputations of individual reporters being at stake. This applies to qualified journalists as well as those individuals simply interested in disseminating and dispersing the truth in the process of seeking it for themselves. Many share their findings on Facebook pages dedicated to their specific area of news or political interest. Others are politically and socially active and simply comment on large news outlet’s posts in a bid to balance out the information disclosed in the article. They may also do this out of a personal sense of duty to have the all angles heard. In many cases, this commentary is also out of frustration at the one sided or sensationalist reporting when there is much more to the story than has been declared in a mainstream article.

This version of independent media is increasing and could play an important part in repairing the decline in community we see at the hands of mass media. Interaction with strangers to share ideas, refine values and pass on information garnered elsewhere would counteract the misleading reporting along with the overall fear instilled in readers by the commercial outlets for the sake of sales. This also means the dispersal of news can also occur indirectly. One person being affected by a report they encounter in their newsfeed could see them respond by sharing it on their timeline. Their contacts may not have seen this news had the original reader not passed it on and by doing so a certain level of peerage is attached. It is as though they have recommended that article and as such, the contents carry more weight when passed on within this medium- be it from a friend, family member or a colleague. This is a worrying concept when much of the mainstream news is one sided, sensationalist and noneducational.

The ability to share information instantaneously on these sites can see an inaccurate story spread quickly and widely. The source of the information can also become lost and with the mainstream media’s fast turnaround in news, it’s unlikely the story shall be refined or followed up further. The result is a misinformed public that spread misinformation on behalf of the media corporations.

Each click through is also advertising revenue for the publications business associates. Many articles have hard hitting headlines that are purposefully misleading and even false to entice the reader to click through to the article’s page on the provider’s advertisement ridden website. Alternatively, rather than reading the article and analysing the contents, the reader assumes the deliberately misleading headline is true and shares the message based solely on it.

The publication has its message spread and their advertiser’s messages are exposed. The fact the public is misinformed now, can be rectified in a few hours’ time with an updated story that will generate yet more click-throughs and misinformation. With the general population turning to such sites as Facebook and twitter for easy access to news, the major news sites not following suit in regards to solid reporting and transparency narrows the gap of readership competition further. Plurality shall also be restored as more people become frustrated by having wasted their time on what have become known as ‘click-bait’ articles. In addition, the rise in alternative newsreaders also sharing their findings on social media sites means the views of the independent writer are out there, re balancing the public sphere. In light of the above, it’s safe to say that independent media fills the gap of non-disclosure created by mainstream news reporting.

Printing deadlines, political biases, pressure to ensure sales of newspapers amongst others, all serve to hinder the quality of news disseminated by commercial media. Independent news readers recognise the need for impartial information to garner a realistic perception of all events- local and international.

Public confidence in commercial media is low and continuing to decline. Misrepresentation of facts and errors in reporting often go uncorrected. Grammatical and spelling errors cast a light on hurried compilation further adding to concerns of legitimate and conscientious reporting. When pressed for an explanation for the recurring mistakes and misrepresentations of facts, Journalists and Editors point to strict deadlines and staffing issues as well as simpler reasons such as careless writing, inexperience or just poor editing and reporting. (, 2014)These issues point to the oligarchic nature of today’s media. The need to deliver results to commercial partners, such as advertisers and shareholders, means reporters have to cut corners and pad out stories to draw the reader in. These poorly researched articles lead to a misinformed public who, when the full details do transpire, feel betrayed and frustrated for believing the initial reports. In contrast, independent reporters gain no benefit from exaggerating the truth. Their relevance lies in their presentation of the facts and research beyond instant reporting.

Being self-regulated means a fast turnaround in publication. However, not having a big corporation to hide behind if their article turns out to be incorrect is where the pressure lies in the absence of printing deadlines. Again, this reiterates the need for absolute transparency and detailed research before publishing a story as an independent writer. In terms of genuinely informing the public, independent organisations are significantly more effective than commercial outlets. In studies conducted to gauge the educational abilities of commercial and independent news, a trend of half to two thirds of mainstream media readers had misunderstood the reported situation compared with less than a third of independently obtained information. (Daily Source, 2014)This misinformation reappears during election time. Many readers of mainstream news are bombarded with spin and party politics. The party values and policies go untold in favour of easy reporting of politician spats and the power play tug-of-war.

This leaves people misinformed and/or uninformed the day they cast their vote. With no understanding or knowledge of the policies and values relevant to particular candidates it’s little wonder the public are unhappy when the elected government do not, in fact, reflect their own personal values. The mainstream media outlets invariably have a political leaning and will aid their preferred candidate’s success to protect their own financial interests. With 80% of America’s daily newspapers belonging to the major outlets, it is easy to see how a symbiotic relationship benefits the state and that which has essentially become its mouthpiece (Daily Source, 2014).

This raises questions of action. Why do individuals use their current method? How difficult would it be to get them to change? What are the benefits of changing? Why do they continue to source their information from proven inaccurate sources when truthful, more educational options are readily available? The effects of the media can go some way to explain the difficulty in breaking free. Traditional Liberal views of the media are that: 1. Individuals can make their own choices and rationalise the quality of the news they read. In essence, “the audience is not an undifferentiated mass but is made up of complex and highly individual personalities”. (Errington and Miragliotta, 2007). 2. The readers influence the content since the outlets are privately owned and need to be relevant to their audience to ensure sales and 3. We live in a democracy where no one power dictates what is and isn’t available for readers to consume. That said, it’s worth noting that the mainstream media operates according the hypodermic model:

A concept where a single message is delivered and understood by a mass audience in such a way that once it is administered the response would be the same regardless of age, intelligence, qualifications or gender (Errington & Miragliotta, 2007). It suggests audiences have a level of disconnection to the information they are receiving which sees them unable to think critically and disseminate fact from sensationalism. This contradiction in the intent of the media’s message delivery should raise a flag and encourage the reader to seek more authentic information elsewhere since the traditional liberal theory does not hold true.

However, the hypodermic model is powerful and its power lies in the fact that its message is quickly and easily received leaving readers satisfied that what they have read has covered what they need to know. Again, alternative media outlets exist to redress the balance of truth and information lacking in commercial options. The difficulty lies in encouraging people to break free from the safety of the 4th estate model they are familiar with. They must be prepared to face the eventuality that the real news of independent media is not as easy to digest and the commercial offering, however, it is important to be informed and know the truth.

In conclusion, the evidence presented here shows a strong case for a widespread switch to independent news. This essay can be seen as a form of independent media by its research of existing knowledge of the subject, breaking down to more simple terms and collating those findings into one place as well as offering and referencing other opinions. It hopefully goes someway to causing a shift in the perception and habits of their daily news gathering for those who read it.

To involve many individual perceptions is an example of adhering to the traditional liberal values of independent media and living up to Mills’ expectations of basic human abilities (Errington & Miragliotta, 2007). Independent media providers have become the new gatekeepers guarding the public interest the media was originally intended to do. “Their work is so powerful, in fact, that such luminaries as André Schiffrin, longtime publisher of Pantheon Books and founder of the New Press, have stated outright that the independents — once dismissed and loudly reviled as marginal, leftist and naïve –“are now playing the classic role of fourth estate in our democracy.” (O’Connor, 2014).

Barnes, R. (2014). What You Think Of Us: The NM Reader Survey Results | [online] Available at:, (2014).

Current Problems in the Media. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Sep. 2014].Errington, W. and Miragliotta, N. (2007).

Media & politics. 2nd ed. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press, pp.41-51.O’Connor, R. (2014). Independent Media Goes Mainstream. [online]

The Huffington Post. Available at: [Accessed 12 Sep. 2014].

Weiss, J. (2014). How to raise funds for your independent media startup | IJNet. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Sep. 2014].

Mass media versus social media

In this guest post George Von Waidkuns reflects about the role of the mass media in the creation of public opinion, and the interaction with the social media in terms of political and socio-cultural issues.

Generally, it can be said that mass media plays an important role in the creation of public opinion. Recent studies show that there is a close relationship between mass media and social control.

“The mechanism of control generally exercised by media proprietors is through the appointment of editors, ‘who become the proprietor’s “voice” within the newsroom, ensuring that journalistic “independence” conforms to the preferred editorial line’ (McNair). The power of the media is not just in its editorial line but also in covering some issues rather than others, some views but not others. It is this power that makes politicians so reluctant to cross the large media moguls and regulate the industry in the public interest. So while politicians would like to regulate against concentration of media ownership they are not as tough as they would like to be on this score.

Like earlier periods in the history of mass media communication the rise of radio, and then television, the birth of the Internet era has generated extensive speculation about the potential consequences of this development for older news media, for political campaigns, and for civic society.

As the Internet has taken off, research has explored the consequences for parties, candidates and election campaigns; for new social movements, interest groups and organizational activism; and for the policymaking process and governing in an information age.

We are witnessing a clear competition between mass media and social media in the creation of public opinion and public direct participation in political and social issues.

Mass Media and Social Control

The impact of the mass media on the consumers’ mind cannot be ignored; television, radio and newspapers make this by imposing social trends, informing, forming and misinforming the political opinion of the masses.

According to recent researches we can affirm that the mass media manipulates the mind of its consumers by using subliminal advertising and other techniques serving in the creation of public opinion and their political opinion. Mass media controls the political opinion of the masses constituting by this an invisible “government” of the “democratic” societies.

In essence public opinion is created by mass communication media and as a result of it most people delegates their own vision of the political reality to what the mass media is imposing on them. We are not thinking, the mass media think for us. We are not what we think; we are what they think we are.

Government and Control of Public Opinion, the Australian Case: Public Servants Banned from Political Opinion

The current Australian government threatened its public servants with disciplinary measures including dismissals if they make comments or if they express political opinion on social media.

The government is prepared to spend more than $4.2M to control social media and investigate cases where political opinion is adverse. This is a clear invasion of privacy and a restriction of freedom of speech.

An Australian renown academic, John Lord, said “the government could save that money by asking for my phone number straight away”.

Social Media and Participation

One of the most relevant characteristics of social media is the direct and instant participation of users in the political, social and economical reality. Users are exercising real power by interacting through online comments, blogs and publication of articles on independent websites.

The online participation of common citizens in the social and political issues, balance or to some extent neutralise the power of old means of mass communication, because citizens are now not passive spectators of reality but part of it. Citizens did not have the right to exercise their power by expressing their opinion on social issues. On the contrary they were selectively ignored by mass media.

People today extensively are losing faith in the mass media because they can test reality by their own means online. People are becoming part of reality rather than mere viewers.

Social Media and Hope

There are many hopes and fears surrounding the “virtual” democracy in the emerging of the Internet Age. Much debate revolves around whether the distinctive structure and interactive format of the Internet will provide a genuinely new form of political mobilization, enticing the dissent into public life, producing a more egalitarian democracy, or whether its primary function will be to reinforce those who are already most active through conventional channels like social organizations, community groups and parties.

We believe that public participation on social media is making a more authentic democracy as people can express their political views in a direct way and by making it public.

Social Media and the Church

In front if this new reality, even the Catholic Church has been giving green light to social media, Pope Francis recently confirmed it:

“The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone. We are called to show that the Church is the home of all”.

“Are we capable of communicating the image of such a Church? Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ. In the area of communications too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts.”


In view of the presented above, social media with the participation of citizens in the social and political reality constitutes a new cultural phenomenon which challenges the other reality presented by the mass media. It is time then to see our socio-political reality in a new way, perhaps in a more democratic and truthful way, free from manipulation.

Glimpses of the Real Tony Abbott

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Tony Abbott reveals much about the man behind the public persona – unknowingly – whenever he speaks. Peter Barnes looks at Tony Abbott’s recent interview with Michelle Grattan, where glimpses of the man – the real Tony Abbott – came to the surface.

Michelle Grattan’s interview with the Prime Minister produced some more intimate glimpses of the PM than we normally get during the heavily scripted and rehearsed interviews on the news.

Here are some I thought revealing.

The first glimpse was of a PM who is still in Opposition. When asked about his experience of the job he answered a different question and said:

Hopefully the people’s experience of the new government will be that it’s competent and considered, trustworthy and candid, in a way that the former government wasn’t.

In general people seem to think that this continuing obsession with the previous government represents a failure by the PM to switch to governing, however after six months I think it’s much more likely to be a deliberate strategy. Whether accidental or deliberate, it’s not what we want from the leader of our Government.

The second glimpse was of a generation gap. You only have to look at a photo of the cabinet to understand that if you’re middle-aged or older, white, male, healthy and well off you’re well represented by this government. Otherwise, your mileage will vary. However this glimpse reveals a PM who clearly has never used social media, and really doesn’t understand social media. Why? Because although it might seem trivial, he says:

The thing about social media is that it is anonymous

With that single, massive misunderstanding, he goes on to dismiss social media as:

kind of like electronic graffiti

In this way, the infrastructure that lay behind Occupy, Arab Spring, March in March and numerous other popular movements is pigeonholed in the PM’s mind as trivial vandalism. This, from the PM who wants to be “the infrastructure PM”, but who totally misunderstands a major piece of the single most important piece of infrastructure – the internet – to be built in the last twenty years.

The third glimpse is, I will admit, pure snark on my part. The PM can’t add up to six. When asked about fatigue, he says:

Yes, but I’m lucky in that I’ve got quite a bit of stamina, Michelle. I don’t need more than six hours sleep a night . . . I can bound out of bed at five o’clock in the morning . . . I find I can go through the day till about ten o’clock pretty comfortably.

Mr. Prime Minister, from ten to five is seven hours. Churchill, you’re not.

The next glimpse is more conventional, of a politician buffing and polishing the facade. Asked whether he has informal “sounding boards”, he nominates, amongst others, the fire brigade he serves with. That certainly sounds like an admirable man, serving his community and staying in touch with people from all walks of life. So how often does he consult the firies? Well, he says he spent two shifts with them in October (resulting in blanket coverage of the PM in firefighting gear), and since then he has had just two additional shifts. That’s two shifts in five months. Mr Prime Minister, can we just admit you dragged the fire brigade into the conversation by their yellow braces, and they’re no more a sounding board for you than the members of Destroy the Joint?

The same goes for the rather bizarre answer to Grattan’s question about the most rewarding areas of the job:

. . . contact with the military at every level, from the service chiefs to the squadies that I’ve been lucky enough to do PT with, has been a special highlight

This sounds like another case of a topic being dragged in, kicking and screaming, by the epaulettes. Can you imagine the pre-election interview:

“Mr. Abbott, why do you want to be PM?”

“I want to be PM because it will allow me contact with the military at every level, including doing star jumps with squaddies”


The next glimpse is telling, and disturbing. When asked from whom he gets advice, the PM nominates a number of people and groups (including the firefighters). When he’s finished, Grattan observes:

Michelle Grattan: You didn’t mention the public service in that list.

Tony Abbott: Of course I should have, but in the end the public service is there to implement the policies of the government as well as to offer frank and fearless advice.

In other words, in the PM’s mind the Public Service is there to do as it’s told. He’s not even slightly interested in their advice, in any form. The PM’s clear contempt for expert advice that doesn’t match his already held beliefs is well documented. He has already abolished a number of expert bodies, and has dismissed advice from people and groups eminent in many fields, simply because it isn’t what he wanted to hear. That is a very dangerous trait in someone who should freely acknowledge their own limited expertise in practically all subjects, and whose contribution should be in listening, then balancing needs and demands for the greatest good of the nation.

However the most revealing glimpse is the last. Again, it reveals a PM still trying to portray himself as battling in Opposition, rather than governing. It reveals a PM still talking in three-word slogans. It reveals a PM who can apparently simultaneously claim to have stopped the boats, and yet still not have stopped the boats. It reveals a PM whose every achievement is defined in terms of stopping and undoing.

It reveals a PM completely devoid of vision. Here are his absolute top priorities for Australia in the next twelve months.

Michelle Grattan: Just finally, if you were to fast forward a year, what are the three things you would most like to have achieved by this time 12 months on?

Tony Abbott: We’ve got to stop the boats, get the budget under control and repeal the carbon tax and the mining tax. They’re the things that we have to get done in these first 12 months.

This article was first posted on Peter’s blog “infinite8horizon” and reproduced with permission.

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Lingua Tribute: Translators are not tools

[君子不器 Junzi bu qi] Translators are not tools

A Tribute to Linda Jaivin’s Found in Translation: In Praise of a Plural World

‘Linda Jaivin has been translating from Chinese for more than thirty years. While her specialty is subtitles, she has also translated song lyrics, poetry and fiction, and interpreted for ABC film crews, Chinese artists and even the English singer Billy Bragg as he gave his take on socialism to some Beijing rockers. In Found in Translation she reveals the work of the translator and considers whether different worldviews can be bridged. She pays special attention to China and the English-speaking West, Australia in particular, but also discusses French, Japanese and even the odd phrase of Maori. This is a free-ranging essay, personal and informed, about translation in its narrowest and broadest senses, and the prism – occasionally prison – of culture.’

The print version or ebook can be purchased by clicking this image:

The Confucian saying, 君子不器 Junzi bu qi, is not hard to decipher according to Linda Jaivin, just to translate. Take your pick: ‘The accomplished/gentleman scholar is not a utensil/pot/tool.’ If it’s possible for a woman to be to a ‘gentleman scholar’, then Linda more than fits that tag from her essay for the Quarterly magazine.

The contact page on her website is for ‘messages or love letters’. It entices the sender to engage ‘tutoiement’ – the process of using the informal ‘tu’ in French. We should all pay homage there to her invisible hand behind the subtitles that have enriched cinephiles’ lives for decades. As a former teacher of NESB [Non-English Speaking Background] students and an author and sub-editor with Global Voices Online, this is my response to her essay and my tribute to translators.

In 1980 I attended a matinee Woody Allen doubleheader in Lisbon. The packed house was a clear indicator of his international popularity. I remember laughing loudly during both movies. It was a tad embarrassing for my reactions were slightly ahead of the pack as most of the audience were reading the subtitles. His New York Jewish humour didn’t seem to ruffle the Portuguese audience’s enjoyment.

Lingua Voices

Our GV Lingua team has volunteer translators for approximately forty languages. They are as diverse as Aymara, Magyar [Hungarian], Swahili, Bangla, Korean and Amharic [official language of Ethiopia and second-most spoken Semitic language in the world after Arabic]. In addition, posts are also translated into English as all stories on the main section use that lingua franca. Nearly 100,000 translations of posts have been completed since 2006.Volunteers choose which ones they will translate. It is a form of feedback that can be a bit disheartening sometimes but that is compensated for when quoted bloggers/ tweeters find their words in two kinds of Chinese, Filipino or Farsi and send messages of delight.

Word play

As an author and a sub-editor helping with translations into English, my earliest lesson was to avoid puns. Word plays are potential nightmares for audience and translators alike. The most common slang in Oz English can stump even experienced linguists. It belongs in Pandora’s box, with jargon and cricket metaphors, marked ‘never to be opened’. Allusions to Australian Rules football prove even more dangerous.

When I wrote ‘Coca Cola Machine ‘Out of Order’ in Australia’ it was translated into six other languages including Malagasy, Macedonian and Catalan. In French it became ‘Distributeur Coca-Cola « En panne » en Australie’ [‘Distributor Coca-Cola ‘Broken Down’ in Australia] abandoning the double play on words. The charged word, ‘machine’, just went through to the keeper. That’s wicket-keeper, not goal-keeper, in case anyone is translating this response.

Neologisms [new words] are an essential element of netizen-speak but they are not universally understood even amongst geeks or tweeps (not to be confused with tweeping). Inevitably we fall captive to the latest. ‘Lacticvist’ was impossible to resist when breastfeeding in public hotted up in early 2012 but its rendition as ‘les militantes de l’allaitement maternel’ was a real mouthful. De l’autre côté, ‘SlutWalks’ was simply incorporated into the German, Italian and French using quotation marks – a very slippery slope indeed for L’Académie français. The Spanish translator was more creative with ‘Marcha de putas’- roughly ‘march of whores’ though it had currency in Brazil by then. Portuguese prefers ‘Marcha das Vadias’ i.e. ‘Bitches’.

It is often hard to know exactly which connotations attached to words like these, especially in different languages and cultures. Linda observes, “The swearwords and curses of a language expose what is forbidden, what is permitted and what is held sacred in that culture.”The use of Twitter hashtags presents its own complications. Some tweeters use multilingual tags such as #Syria #Siria #Syrie #Syrien to reach a wider audience but limit the length of the message. Others tweet in more than one language. GV always includes the original text when quoting plus a translation. The 140-character limit adds a challenge normally confined to post titles or headings, where brevity invites wit but not always clarity.

Lingua global

Linda asks, ‘Ĉu vi parolas Esperanton?’ When my partner and I visited Iceland in July 2013, we were entertained by an Esperanto choir on the grand steps of Reykjavík’s Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. They were taking a break from the World Congress of Esperanto, which involved over one thousand participants from fifty-five countries. Linda would be glad to know that there were some Chinese involved. Hvað er merking hörpu? No prizes for guessing that one, though harpa has two distinct meanings in Icelandic.Sub-editing posts written originally in a LOTE (Language other than English) is both daunting and rewarding. I often use Google Translate to check a word or phrase or to get a better grasp on the context.

Google doesn’t seem to like Japanese but sometimes gets it right. A scandal about Tokyo’s governor taking a bribe had this: ‘The document is a note of hand to borrow 50 million yen with no interest, no collateral and no return date set.’ I presumed ‘note of hand’ referred to something hand-written but it turned out to be a legit term for an informal promissory note. I.O.U. might have sufficed even if some readers wouldn’t have understood the etymology. It is a clear forerunner of SMS and twitter-speak.

“Words have the power to change the way we think.”

Meanwhile the Chinese government is trying to eradicate Chinglish [中式英語] in a bid to stop people who ‘slip carefully’ in their translations. Chinese netizens are also annoying the authorities by mining euphemisms that Internet surveillance software is not blocking yet. They started using the term “tea talk” or “forced to drink tea” [被喝茶] to describe vigorous interrogations by the internal security police.“River crab’ (censorship) and ‘watch uncle’ (corruption) have required pest control. Mention of the 18th National Party Congress was banned on Sina Weibo [China’s version of Twitter] and their Facebook equivalent Renren, so it became ‘Sparta’ because of its similar sound. Modifying English words also became a game on Weibo. Freedamn [中國特色自由] is freedom with Chinese characteristics. You can raise the red lantern against China’s censorship by offering a friendly Internet connection for the new circumvention software called Lantern [燈籠].

You have to wonder what the Chinese censors would have made of the ChinaSmacks’ translation of the ‘My Vagina Says – If your vagina could talk, what would she say?’ meme. It certainly went against stereotype: “You need to be invited – to get in!”

Barbaros babble

Chinese is one of the United Nations six official diplomatic languages. The others are Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish. They are obviously vehicular but they don’t always travel that well. We spent a month in 1996 at a Spanish language school in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The teachers claimed that Cubans speaking Spanish sound like they have a mouthful of chewing gum. At that time my Chilean colleagues and students at Melbourne’s Westall Secondary College tested my tin ear by omitting the end or middle of words and sometimes both. They often contracted two of these into one word. There’s a word for everything in English, often borrowed. ‘Elision’ might fit here or perhaps ‘syncope’.Arabic should present fewer difficulties, at least for Arabs. However, a Tunisian blogger maintains that their vernacular can be almost impenetrable at times, even to near neighbours.

Linda canvasses “linguistic imperialism”. English may be the great vehicular language but assumptions about its international currency are hazardous. The term ‘dog-whistling’ originated down under thanks to Prime Minister John Howard et al and has spread to some in the U.S. and UK. One of my posts began :

“There has been a contest for the worst pun following remarks by Teresa Gambaro [MP who] called for immigrants on work visas to be taught ‘social norms’ such as the use of deodorants and waiting in orderly queues.”

I was stretching all the rules about language accessibility but you’ve got to have fun. ‘Raw prawn’ and ‘hair of the dog’ were my favourites. My advice: “Check it out while the poop is still fresh”. You wouldn’t be dead for quids!

Northern Territory lights

Segue to Katherine High School 2002. After sharing my interest in etymology with my Year 8 class, I was approached on lunchtime yard duty by an unfamiliar youth who asked if it was true that I read the dictionary for fun. My confirmation brought the response, “You’re a very sick man!”When we were teaching in Maningrida in Arnhem Land during 2003-6, senior students were required to get exemptions to enroll in English as a Second Language [ESL]. For most it was not their second, third or in some cases even fourth or fifth. The indigenous community, and its homelands, has ten or more languages. Some are spoken by one or two extended families yet are healthy, rich and vibrant. Nakkara, with ap,proximately 60 speakers, and Rembarrnga are two of those. The township has a lingua franca but somewhat surprisingly it isn’t the local traditional owners’ Ndjebbana/Kunibidji but rather the other major language of the township Burarra.

Ars Poetica

Linda explores difficulties with translating poetry. They apply equally to song lyrics. Welsh band Manic Street Preachers’ song ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’ didn’t faze some of our translators. Rezwan did an outstanding job in Bangla, going by my back-translation using Google. However, there was a stumble over ‘fascists’. Most online machines were fooled, ‘phyasistaderao’ being the only stab for ফ্যাসিস্টদেরও. Linda is, of course, no fan of “machine translations”.


Finally, some wisdom from multi-linguist supremo, Danica Radisic, GV’s Central and Eastern Europe editor. Recently Niki wrote of her childhood growing up as a third culture kid:

Our parents’ work and lives allowed us to travel to different countries and often live on several different continents throughout our childhood, learn to speak countless languages and move seamlessly between cultures…”

Her ability to converse with someone simultaneously in their respective native languages is awesome. She concludes:

“…this spot on the Word Wide Web [GV] that is a scrapbook of different cultures and opposing views, is where third culture kids come when they grow up.”

The full story is on The Bridge at GV. Please join our global conversation.

The Gold Rush of Social Media: 8 Realities for Business

In 2014 The AIMN will be broadening the range of articles we bring to you. We have become very popular for our discussions on politics, media and climate change, as well as the short stories and book reviews we offer. In 2014 we will be introducing Camille McClane as a guest author who will be writing about Internet business opportunities, which I for one, and many of our authors and readers have a deep interest in. Here is Camille’s first article, The Gold Rush of Social Media: 8 Realities for Business. For those of you who have your own business or website, I hope you gain as much from this article as I have.

Websites can only be as good as the marketing content introduced. However, the recent developments in the parameters for search engines have required that websites provide higher-end content in order to be accessed easier online. The goal now for website owners and content managers is to provide compelling content not only for search engine purposes, but especially for the users and visitors of the site.

The following are several of the most effective ways in creating engrossing material for your site:


The phrase “there is no original content found online” can be a very true notion. One way to generate quick content for your site is to actually take material from other forums or sources and spin it in an original direction. This is the process of curation and initiates alluring content for your website and its followers. Pulling from other places and people who are clearly successful and doing something right is a great way to obtain your own online success.


Though it can be painful to review, accept and ultimately utilize in the strengthening of your online presence, feedback is crucial. This can be done by a simple post on your website and/or a video message addressed to your readers which will open up a suggestion box for topics to be discussed. The article “Ways to Create Exciting, Unique and Memorable Content for Your Small Business” on web hosting mecca further addresses the importance of customer feedback, stating that sharing highlights of positive feedback on your own website and social media profiles, as well as publicly addressing negative feedback and proactively taking steps to correct the negative perceptions people may have are all ways to immediatlely improve a bussiness’ relationship to its community.

Guest Submissions

An effortless way to introduce new information without the hassle of writer’s block or limited time is to share the spotlight on your blog/website. This is accomplished by allowing guest posts or commentaries on your website. It proves to the online community that you are open to an array of opinions and voices, and that the company’s message is not the only message it stands by.


Additionally, writing a critique on a movie, event or fellow blogs are sure-fire options to bring in more foot traffic and develop conversations between readers.


Currently, the most popular course of action in order to produce text is to observe what has become popular and viral online. In doing so, your site would be riding on the coat tails of the popular online topic, as well as, drawing interest to your site from others that are engaged in the topic.


Sometimes, your inspiration for original content can be a bit hard to chew and can drive away your readers with short attention spans. A creative, unique way to gain their attention would be through the use of infographics. A vast amount of internet viewers are visual learners and seeing your thoughts drawn out for them will not only help reel them in but help them comprehend your concept. After all, a picture paints a thousand words.

Image by

Image by


Blog posts or other web content forms do not have be intellectual or even monumental in terms of their effect. They can be as simple as sharing an event or as brazen as a reportage of a newsworthy story experienced firsthand. This would make for compelling content for anyone’s website, whether it be it written in words or seen through images. If you live in a certain area, then you are most likely privy to its events and happenings. Share your perspective of those themes with the rest of the world for some really unique content.


Content with your physical presence is a great way to have readers connect with you and makes you relatable, down-to-earth and perhaps more compelling and interesting. You being visible on your site would provide the viewers with a face to the voice they’ve been following.

Content is obviously essential for any website, so make it good with the steps listed above. Stimulating material is required every single day to give your site a fighting chance to be ranked in any search engine results. While inspiration may be fleeting for many, all of these tips can help furnish your site and avoid getting lost in the clutter mass of the Internet.

Camille McClane is an online entrepreneur who is passionate about viral marketing concepts, growth of technology and mass communications. She lives in Southern California with her son and loves when viewers reach out to her on Facebook. Camille wishes you luck on all your future business endeavors!

The Prince. Faith, Abuse and George Pell

george pell

Writing about politics or issues of social importance and making it sound thought-provoking requires elite skills. For me, two such writers are Don Watson and David Marr.

Don Watson first came to my attention as Paul Keating’s speechwriter. He wrote two of the finest ever Australian speeches. ‘’The Redfern Address’’ which spoke of the plight of Aboriginal people and ‘’Funeral Service for the Unknown Soldier’’ for the 75th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice.

He also wrote the most definitive political biography I have ever read. ‘’Recollections of a Bleeding Heart.’’ Keating never forgave him for the revelations of his time in power. However, Watson produced a work that put the reader in the room so to speak.

Another brilliant work of his was ‘’American Journeys’’. A book that explains the average American’s connection to their country’s politics and constitutional complexities that affect their daily life, like no other.

David Marr wrote ‘’Patrick White a Life’’, an authorised biography of the Nobel Prize-winning author. I had not read any of Whites work when I read this work but I was taken by the intelligence of Marr’s writing.

For me, he is able to turn the mundane into something exciting. He does it with a clearly distinctive style that can at times read like the fiction of mystery. I read his book ‘’The High Price of Heaven’’ in which he describes the church as the enemy of pleasure and freedom. I found myself agreeing with him.

He has also written a number of Quarterly Essays. ‘’His Masters Voice’’ which addressed, as he describes it, the lack of public debate under John Howard. Another was ‘’Power Trip’’ which tackled the persona of Kevin Rudd and ‘’Political Animal’’ in which he applied his incredible ability, to sum up, the character of those he writes about. This time it was Tony Abbott.

“An aggressive populist with a sharp tongue; a political animal with lots of charm; a born protégé with ambitions to lead; a big brain but no intellectual; a bluff guy who proved a more than competent minister; a politician with little idea of what he might do if he ever got to the top; and a man profoundly wary of change.”

“He’s a worker. No doubt about that. But the point of it all is power. Without power, it’s been a waste of time.”

All of which brings me to his latest essay titled ‘’The Prince. Faith abuse and George Pell.” This is a compelling read. Marr doesn’t reveal anything new about the Churches abuse of children in its care.

What he does do is to chronologically place all the events in a sequence that brings reflection and clarity. He highlights the historic indifference of the church’s attitude. The cover-ups, the moving around of guilty priests. His writing puts the reader in a ‘’how would you feel if it were your child or indeed if you were in the child’s position.”

Whilst reading it I had to stop many times and reflect on the enormity of the sins of the fathers. More than once I shed a tear whilst uttering the word, bastards.

But this essay is as much about Pell (I don’t feel the need to be particularly aware of protocol and use his title) the man as it is about child abuse. When all is stripped back we see a man of very little love for flock but great love for the institution of church, the privileges that come with it and the power it commands. Consequently, Pell is adored by the church but despised by the people.

David Marr has this extraordinary way of summing up the individual he is writing about. He is fair but is more often apt to say what he thinks with a cutting tempestuous tongue.

‘’I wonder how much of the strange ordinariness of George Pell began fifty years ago when a robust schoolboy decided, as an act of piety, to kill sex in himself. The gamble such men take is that they may live their whole lives without learning the workings of an adult heart. Their world is the church. People are shadows. Pell is one of these: a company man of uncertain empathy. He has the consolations of friendship, music and a good cellar. And he has what inspired him from the start: a place at the highest level of the church and a voice in the nation. He has power. His mitred head nods politely as he passes.’’

With the assistance of Abbott and Howard, the Catholic Church has managed for many years to avoid punishment for its sins. Even the God in which it believes has refused to punish.

You can make what you want of that.

As for Marr’s essay. Well, a free copy should be handed out to every person attending mass next Sunday. I often wonder (perhaps unfairly) why anyone would want to remain in an organisation that commits the most abominable acts of cruelty. But it seems they do.

David Marr is the multi-award-winning author of Patrick White: A Life, Panic and The High Price of Heaven, and co-author with Marian Wilkinson of Dark Victory. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Monthly, been editor of the National Times, a reporter for Four Corners and presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch. He is also the author of two previous bestselling biographical Quarterly Essays: Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd and Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott.

Independent media: the sleeping giant and the MSM’s response

Paul Sheehan’s recent attacks on the hugely popular Facebook site Tony Abbott – Worst PM in Australian History are not isolated incidents of the mainstream media (MSM) publicly airing disdain towards the social media.

Ferocious, and to some, persuasive attacks by the MSM have become rabid from the moment the independent media (the Fifth Estate) and voices in social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter) became even the slightest of threats to their diminishing integrity. And why wouldn’t their integrity be diminishing when the direction we’ve seen in the MSM leans towards, especially in the last few years, are stories that are trivial, narrow, shallow and sensationalist? And often untrue. My recent article, The facts versus Andrew Bolt offered an example of the of the fabricated sensationalism so evident in today’s media.

It was a couple of years ago that I first noticed the MSM unleash an attack on the independent blog sites. A couple that I read from the Murdoch media exhibited a sort of ‘xenophobic’ hatred. Christian Kerr, a political journalist with The Australian, savaged the blogosphere with more zeal than I’ve ever heard him attack incompetent politicians, writing that:

It’s also worth noting that the`blogosphere’ supposedly outraged is the small incestuous clique of self-identified lefties, with readerships composed mostly of themselves, who were more than happy to out other bloggers a few years ago with whom they disagreed.

That last bit, for the uninitiated, is a reference to the modern dull and doctrinaire Crikey and its very own Adrian Mole, barrister-blogger Walter Jeremy Sear, and his role assisting The Sunday Age dissect the corpse of the spectacularly snarky site The Spin Start Here that offended sensibilities for years until it reached its logical conclusion and ripped itself apart. Sear was happy to help with an outing then.

The whole thing smacks of naivety and self-righteousness.

And naivety and self-righteousness seems to define the vast majority of the Australian blogosphere. That and whining conspiracy theories.

Quite remarkably, Christian’s little dummy spit was shadowed by the editorial of another from the Murdoch empire, the Townsville Bulletin, which announced to North Queenslanders that bloggers are cowards:

When reporter James Massola “outed” an anonymous blogger in The Australian newspaper last week, he received death threats and a torrent of personal abuse.

How dare someone in the mainstream media name one of these increasingly puerile bloggers, self-appointed guardians of righteousness and all that is wrong about society and, in particular, newspapers.

Grogs Gamut was named as a Canberra public servant and the reaction from his mates was as predictable as it was boring.

Those who hide under the veil of anonymity, taking cheap shots to satisfy their trendy social agenda, don’t like it when they are thrust into the real world.

The great thing about newspapers is that, love us or hate us, we’re the voice of the people. We represent the community, their views, their aspirations and their hopes. We champion North Queensland’s wins and we commiserate during our losses.

Oh how high and mighty they are, being the acclaimed “voice of the people”. And true to from, jumping in on the act the aforementioned Andrew Bolt screamed that the outed blogger, Greg Jericho, be sacked from his usual job. Indeed, let’s punish this new media.

There is no doubt that all forms of dialogue in the social and independent media have profoundly influenced the nature of modern communication and obviously this doesn’t sit well with the traditional media. The above references are indicative of their opinion that the new media produces public discussion that falls well below their standards. I, however, disagree. News stories these days are nothing more than opinion pieces to which nobody is held to account.

New media is now holding them to account and this sits very uneasily with them.

In a few short years the new media, blogging in particular, has become a global phenomenon and it has reshaped our view of journalism. It is in the political sphere, that the impact of blogging is being nurtured.

In an essay titled The Influence of Political Blog Sites on Democratic Participation, ShariVari wrote that:

A computer-mediated environment may make it easier for citizens to express their feelings about political candidates and allow them to speak more candidly than if they were in a face-to-face situation. The diversity of the internet gives citizens access to a wide variety of opinions and information that they may not have access to otherwise, and this may play a role in changing or shaping an individual’s political views. After disregarding any blog sites that have a corporate financial objective or are engaging in political agenda-setting, political blog site users can begin to discuss their personal view points with peers.

I find this essay to be rather heartening. As a blogger and a social media user who has lost all faith in the MSM it was good to know that we can indeed have an impact, albeit small at this stage.

ShariVari concludes that:

All of the research shows that increased opportunities for participation can only encourage democracy . . . This research means that citizens are increasingly turning to and trusting the Internet for accurate information, using it as a platform for participatory democracy, and becoming more knowledgeable about political information in the process. A Spiral of Silence is less likely to exist where citizens have only each others’ opinions to evaluate in terms of their own civic participation and lack status cues such as gender, race, and socio-economic status. Blog sites definitely are increasing the ways in which citizens can participate in their democracy.

The above article, although American and a couple of years old, aptly describes how independent media is now evolving in Australia.

Independent media are better suited to provide the diversity which is often ignored by traditional journalists. Both independent and social media advances the opportunity to expose doctored or omitted facts from mainstream media and point out the bias by particular reporters who do not provide such opportunity for his/her readership to give voice to alternate opinions.

Independent media also encourages contributors and readers to think objectively and ask the probing questions that might often be avoided by the MSM, particularly if they are working to a different (or hidden) agenda. Further, social media gives people the opportunity to analyse and disseminate the news and opinions thrown at them from the established media and as a consequence social media is awash with a more objective and factual analysis. Where, for example, would you find corrections to false or misleading statements from the current government exposed? Not the MSM. Not the MSM as they operate under a different agenda.

But if the MSM was objective, impartial and committed to providing a quality service then there may not be the thousands of social media groups the MSM are now taking a disliking to.

Had we a balanced and analytical media, there would be blogs and social media groups, certainly, but at the extremes of the political spectrum although their popularity would have been limited to those that simply agreed with them. Now we have people turning to the new media because they know they cannot expect the truth out of the old media. If the MSM did their job better they wouldn’t need to be so capriciously attacking social media because, quite simply, they wouldn’t be competition.

Sheehan’s recent attack, as mentioned earlier, is not an isolated incident. David Donovan of Independent Australia has also been targeted. David innocently tweeted:

Forgive if I recall incorrectly, but didn’t Abbott promise to spend his first week as PM in an Indigenous community?

It was a fair question. If it wasn’t bad enough that this pre-election commitment was washed aside by the MSM, then the insulting attack on David by Samantha Maiden, the national political editor of News Corporation’s Sydney Sunday masthead, the Sunday Telegraph was. The attack was personal. I encourage you to read David’s account of it.

What on earth is wrong with the MSM? Not only is the credibility of their professionalism crumbling but they attack the independent media for introducing the credibility that they themselves lack. Independent media are asking the questions that should be asked. Independent media are exposing the falsehoods that should be exposed. And in doing so, incur the wrath from the MSM who people, traditionally, have looked to for balanced news and opinion.

Margo Kingston – a former journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald and now a leading figure in social media – summed it up rather succinctly in an interview with The AIMN:

It’s scary that the media are not doing their job. Many journalist friends have expressed the same concerns; they don’t feel as though they are traditional journalists anymore, they are simply writing what the powerful want them to write . . . And there are journalists in the traditional media who secretly admit that the new, independent media is the way of the future.

Some, however, are obviously frightened of it. They can persist with their attacks, but like their news stories they are shallow as rossleigh proved when he spoke to the creator of the Tony Abbott – Worst PM in Australian History Facebook group; the one that Paul Sheehan fabricated stories about. It was a glaring example of story being made up to attack the independent media. It’s not a good move. The Fifth Estate is a sleeping giant. It’s starting to wake up and my advice to the old media is not to provoke it. It is going to consume you. We are no longer passive observers. Margo adds:

We need to build a bridge between the new media and journalists who see the corruption within the mainstream media. We need to collaborate and work together. We can do this by luring traditional journalists into the new media and free them of their shackles. If we do this, one day we in the new media will look back and be grateful for the decisions we make today.

That would be ideal, however, even if ‘traditional’ journalists prefer to ignore the freshness that the new media can offer, there has already been an emergence of ‘new’ journalists in the Fifth Estate to fill the void.

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Australia’s media problem (and how we can fix it)


A guest post by Chris Were.

Editor’s note: After reading this post you may easily form the opinion that The AIMN is promoting the efforts of a ‘rival’ site. This isn’t so. In the independent media there are no rival sites as long as we maintain our focus of providing a more balanced forum than the main stream media. We are, after all, supporting the same cause. I now hand you over to Chris:

Why did the Murdoch media have such influence over the recent Australian election and what can we do about it?

The real winner in the Australian election wasn’t Tony Abbott, but the American citizen that no one voted for — Rupert Murdoch. With headlines such as “Kick this mob out” overlaying a picture of Kevin Rudd, the Murdoch press presented a very one-sided election coverage that was as much anti-Rudd as it was pro-Abbott. Regardless of Murdoch supporting Abbott or Rudd, such biased political coverage is disturbing at best and at it’s worst, very destructive to a democratic country.

In Australia, 11 of 12 capital city daily papers are owned by either Murdoch or Fairfax, providing a monopoly over the public discourse on important issues.

We are living a modern age of blogging and social media, with access to incredible amounts of information, and yet it is the mainstream media that still sets the national political agenda.

This is wrong.

One of the greatest challenges in our modern era is to ensure the majority are well informed on the important issues of the day — which is not the case with the current media monopolies controlling the public conversation.

There is a wealth of great content being generated on websites such as the The Conversation, Australian Independent Media Network, New Matilda, Independent Australia, Macrobusiness, Delimiter through to bloggers such as The Failed Estate, Grog’s Gamut etc. However, despite these websites providing thoughtful, critical analysis and discussion, they don’t reach a mainstream audience.

In the last five years social media has exploded, with more than 2m Australians on Twitter and more than 10m on Facebook. While this has been a great enabler of discussion, it has replaced the water cooler or dinner table discussion rather than helped set the national discourse. The majority of political discussion on these mediums are still dictated by the narratives in the mainstream media.

An article published in the mainstream media will reach the largest cross section of our community. From the local plumber through to the lawyer across the road or the priest in the parish around the corner. When you run into the local plumber, it is quite likely they are familiar with the narrative of the local paper, enabling you to have a shared information base to discuss the issues of the day.

When visiting, you are presented with celebrity gossip and the latest sporting headlines along with a dash of politics. Readers will naturally be more interested in some topics than others, but this aggregated news source ensures it is read by the whole community, not a minority.

The content of Australia’s new media websites need to be packaged in a simple, easy to access format and cover a wide variety of topics. This will allow the content to reach a broader cross section of the community and ideally, given a large enough audience, set the narrative on important issues.

Sure, those who are tech savvy enough can curate their own personalised news from Twitter, Facebook or even RSS, but those people (myself included) are the minority. There are numerous new media websites that produce excellent content across each category (sport, finance, gossip, politics etc.), but the audience has to actively seek out those sources.

Where is the simple alternative that show cases the best non-mainstream content in Australia?

It’s time this content was all in one place.

It’s time for us, the people, to claim ownership of the narrative.

It’s time the front page was determined by the readers.

And of course, it’s essential that those putting in the time, effort and research to write quality content are adequately paid for their work.

These are some of the goals of Newsflock. It won’t happen over night, but I’m determined it will happen. If you want to help or are a publisher who is interested in participating, get in touch via @newsflock on twitter or the Newsflock Facebook page.

This article was first published on Newsflock October 1,2013.

  • Chris Were

Thank you

Thank you

A few years ago I heard a comment on radio that independent political media sites – and in particular blog sites – increase in popularity under a conservative government. The reason behind that is fairly obvious: most independent sites favour a progressive government whereas the mainstream media (MSM), especially in Australia, openly support a conservative government. And who is in government determines who is going to be the most vocally active.

Over the last six years we have seen our MSM (especially the Murdoch media) find something to condemn the Labor and Minority Governments about and witnessed a disgraceful amount of mud throwing. The daily news turned into a daily complaint. But they’re happy now: a conservative government is at the helm and look how quiet the MSM have gone in their political attacks. Soft. Shallow.

So now it’s our turn.

The radio comment that independent sites increase in popularity was very prophetic. Independent Australia mentioned the other day that they experienced their best day yet and September was the busiest month ever for another independent site, Café Whispers.

And so it was with The Australian Independent Media Network. During September over 501,000 people visited the site. Yes, a half a million people read our articles.

We can not let that achievement pass without saying thank you, to you – our readers. It gives our writers great heart and encouragement to know their efforts are rewarded by your readership. You inspire us. You help keep us motivated.

And it is via other social media platforms where our readership generates from. It is obvious that people are turning to Facebook, Twitter and the independent blogs in a political environment they find unsatisfactory. These media offer people the opportunity to have a voice.

But remaining active can be hard work. For all of us this is a labour of love. We do what we do here because we believe in it. We believe it is important to provide an alternative to the MSM ‘opinions’. We will always give you an independent alternative to Murdoch, Gina, Kerry, and the government-owned ABC. However our contributors don’t do this for money. We are not fortunate enough at this stage to be generating enough of an income to cover running costs let alone provide some compensation to our writers.

Due to the continued ongoing success of The AIMN, we have found our running costs are increasing to match our increased popularity. Everyone here does so on a volunteer basis – contributors, writers, editors, researchers etc however there are still running costs involved with running a successful site.

Even if we don’t earn a red cent we will still keep doing what we’re doing, however, the efforts of many on this site are worthy of some reward and as such we’ve introduced a Donate to Site facility. Readers are not expected to contribute as we are grateful and honoured just by your readership. To those who have already contributed I say thank you.

But to everybody, I say a big thank you for all of your dedicated support.


Feel free to speak about whatever I want you to

Part A

In an address to the IPA titled “Freedom Wars”, Tony Abbott declared that it is his intention to repeal s18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, claiming that this section of the Act impacts upon Freedom of Speech. This ideal of freedom of speech is that which we should all aspire to, however, as a friend once stated: You mean the freedom to be an asshole. We will explore this later.

The text of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) can be found via Austlii.

Section C18 of the Act, that being which Tony Abbott so vehemently opposes concerns offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin. That’s correct, it’s offensive behaviour, with the specifics being:

For an act to be unlawful it must fulfill the following criteria:

  • that the action causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or that it is done in a public place.
  • that the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people.
  • that the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

So let us consider that which is not considered unlawful under s18C of the Act.

It is not a group of friends in a public bar talking amongst themselves, even if the subject matter would offend and humilitate a person standing directly next to them. For example, racist jokes.

It is not public discussions for the purpose of information, education or analysis.

There is also the matter of intention plus “the reasonable person test” that is, would a reasonable person given an identical set of circumstances feel humiliated or intimidated. With regard to intent; for example a remark said in public about a person’s religion might offend that person, however if there was lack of intent on the first person’s part to cause offence, then it is not racial vilification.

Therefore, what we are dealing with is people who want the right to make statements in the public forum, and with the intention of causing offence and humiliation. Enter Andrew Bolt.

Is it nothing more than a sheer coincidence that Abbott announced his intention of changing the racial vilification section of the Racial Discrimination Act just prior to Bolt writing this one. How dare they try to censor this flyer.

Andrew Bolt:

Sadly, the ACT Government seems only too keen on the idea:

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said laws prohibiting religious vilification should be considered by a review of the act that is being conducted by the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council.

How dare these people presume to strip others of the right to speak? How dare they?

And . . . again, where Bolt once again attempts to defend freedom:

I make no comment on their opinion but on the principle.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott rightly calls the laws under which two of my articles on this matter were declared unlawful an offence against free speech, and says he will strip them back. But the Left is furious, and introduces absurd excuses for their excesses:

As reported in, Mr Abbott’s speech came after he wrote in The Australian that section 18C of the act was a “threat” to freedom of speech.

“Expression or advocacy should never be unlawful merely because it is offensive,” he wrote.

All well and good, but this is where it gets strange . . .

Part B

The parties that are advocating relaxation to the freedom of speech laws, nay, hysterically demanding it, are the ones who are in reality practicing the most rabid suppression of it. They want the freedom to be an asshole whilst limiting free speech on those who hold opposing views (to them). You’ll be able to racially vilify or abuse anyone whatsoever, but you will be silenced if any form of dissent, no matter how trivial, is directed towards them.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi provides us with a number of examples where he takes freedom of speech to mean exactly ‘freedom to be an asshole’. From his Facebook page:

His post “300 more illegal arrivals in the past three days. Labor’s border failures are costing us over $10 billion” attracted a large number of comments, mostly in support of what he said. Here are some of the responses:

I wonder how these lefties will feel when one of there family gets raped like the girl at Sydney uni by a so called legal asylum seeker. Then we have aids tripling in NT ,not to mention known terrorists being released into the community. I class left wing progressive socialists as much a threat to Australia as Islam.

Just what we need more Sudanese and samarlians they’ve settled well hear,NOT! There would have to be a very high likely hood they are connected to terrorist group alshabab,they would be the only ones with the money to get here.

Just think of all the radical muslim’s that are coming as well!

And his post “Here are some facts surrounding the convicted Egyptian jihadist living in the Adelaide Hills…and still this Government won’t admit their failure to protect our borders and our nation. For more of today’s bulletin go to” also attracted comments of support.

Just think of all the radical muslim’s that are coming as well!

We will never know how many other terrorists, murderers or people of disrepute have come into our country because of this Gov, and it’s loss of control of our boarders. We will never know who could be walking amongst us, or what threats could be awaiting our country. This Gov, has put our country in a very vulnerable situation because it has not done it’s job of protecting our boarders !!!!!!!!!!

We should start denying entry to muslims. Make it happen Cory! Fight the good Christian fight!

One terrorist detected….thousands go undetected. Big salaries being paid for incompetence. Stop muslim migration in Australia whether it be legal or illegal. Don’t let history repeat itself.

As much as I disagree with Bernardi’s opinion, or those who support it, I have no problem with their right to express it (however some of it borders on an incitement to racial hatred and should not have been published). Now here’s where it gets funny; where the freedom to be an asshole takes precedent over freedom of speech. I left a simple comment on his page:

Could you please point out why they are illegal arrivals?

That comment was removed and I was subsequently blocked from commenting on his page again. Yes, they love freedom of speech, don’t they? They can vilify anybody who is non-white or non-Christian but but you can’t question their ‘right’ to do so.

There are a number of other examples across social media that confirm the hypocrisy of these right-wing fundamentalists. Let’s also look at Andrew Laming (a politician fond of composing racist tweets), courtesy of Michael White:

Federal Liberal MP Andrew Laming went on a trolling warpath earlier this month in regards to his perception that the National Broadband Network (NBN) was being rolled out in the Brisbane area on a politico-geographic agenda.

“The cold, hard reality in Brisbane is that households in Labor seats are eight times more likely to get the NBN than those in Coalition seats.”

“Worse, the odds are around 50 per cent better if your Labor MP is a minister. This is a save-the-political-furniture strategy. They are not targeting marginal seats here. They are just trying to survive.”

Of course, there are many reasons why his position was completely wrong, as I highlighted in my article last week on how the Coalition – (deliberately or otherwise) – manage to get their facts on the NBN completely wrong.


At the time of his rant – (spread throughout the media over several days) – myself, @CameronWatt and @Gwyntaglaw engaged in a terse dialogue on Twitter with Laming, pointing out clear, well documented facts in regards to the NBN and its rollout schedule, that were contrary to Laming’s own beliefs on the matter.

He ably demonstrated his inability to grasp even the basic concepts of how the NBN works, how it connects together, and how technical matters – (in most cases) – dictate which parts of the network are rolled out first.

He clearly didn’t like being shown up as being wrong about it.

In fact, he hated it.

How much did he hate it? Well, he blocked me on Twitter, a fact I discovered when putting together the aforementioned article last week.

They really do get precious about freedom of speech when it’s not engaged under their rules. They raise their preciousness to the point of being ridiculous. Here is one that definitely ranks as ridiculous:

Andrew Nikolic, a Liberal Party candidate in Tasmania has threatened to contact the employers of Facebook users who “liked” a satirical article posted about him online.

Mr Nikolic informed the New Examiner last week that if the offending article was not taken down he would write to the employers of all the individuals who had “liked” the story.

“I hope the employers and influencers of your satirical group will be amused by the formal letters of complaint I will now send them on this issue,” wrote Mr Nikolic in a Facebook comment that has since been deleted.

Joe Hockey is another who denies free speech to those who have any semblence of opinions that differ from his own.

Yesterday I discovered that Joe Hockey had called me a troll and blocked me on twitter. My dastardly crime that had caused Joe Hockey to call me a Labor Troll was the reposting of one of his own tweets.

I will say that again, my trollish crime was re-posting one of Joe Hockey’s own tweets.

Oh dear Joe Hockey, Oh deary dear. Is this what our politicians have come to? Reduced to name calling and public hissy fits because a member of the public questions their own words.

It was your own words I was responding to Joe, not Labors words, not a PR piece or a smear campaign designed to discredit you, but your own words, Joe Hockey.

Now go back and read Part A again. Do you see two parallel worlds?

If time permits, also do a Google search and you’ll find dozens of instances where Coalition politicians have blocked people for exercising their freedom of speech; for reasons none other than having a different opinion. It really is a case of freedom to be an asshole. You can vilify, say, Aborigines or Muslims in their brave new world, but you can’t ask them to justify it.

Their reaction to the few examples I’ve revealed in Part B certainly do make their intentions in Part A nothing but Freedom of speech LNP style: Feel free to speak about whatever I want you to.

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So you think Tony Abbott’s going to lead you to the promised land? Think again!

There are some opinions of we ordinary folk that just don’t find their way onto the pages of the mainstream media. Need I tell you what these are? Probably not, for we all know that if our opinions run counter to the media agenda then our opinions are promptly suppressed. Try and say something on Andrew Bolt’s blog, for example. The only arena where Cuppa could express his opinion freely was in the social media.

Cuppa, like us, is one of those good folk who don’t believe for one bit that Tony Abbott is poised to lead us to the promised land. Readers of mainstream media are led to believe that he will. Those people need to hear what others are saying. Such as Anomander who commented here the other day and like Cuppa’s earlier comment, is worthy of a post by itself. Here’s what Anomander had to say:

Will Tony Abbott lead us to the promised land?

Will Tony Abbott lead us to the promised land?

Just because a series of polls and a biased (manipulated) media say one thing, doesn’t make it true. Look how good the MSM’s predictions were in the US election?

This is a war being waged over the very fabric of our society.

Do we want to live as a serfdom for ultra-rich extremists or do we want our country back again?

Do we want to multi-national overseas companies to rape and pillage the land and strip it of all resources, or do we want to protect the environment for us and future generations?

Do we want a society where you are denied an education because you’re born in a lower socio-economic suburb or your parents don’t earn enough, or should all children deserve the right to the same educational standard and a chance at a worthwhile future?

Do we want a society where the aged, poor and infirm are thrown on the scrap heap when they’ve passed their use-by-date, or do we want a society where those in need are cared-for and supported to get back on their feet?

Do we want a country willing to invest in infrastructure that benefits all Australians or do we want to generate surpluses that are squandered on $3 per week tax cuts and hand-outs to the already wealthy?

Do we want a country where our assets are sold-off at bargain basement prices into private hands and we are forced to pay a premium to gain access to them again, or do we want fundamental services, local employment and control over our own future?

Do we want a future where food and asset prices fluctuate wildly based on the whim of an algorithm running on some supercomputer, or do we want regulation to ensure accountability, responsibility and governance?

Do we want real democracy where we all have an equal voice in how the country is run, or do we want powerful psychopaths dictating what we should see, hear, read and say?

Do we want basic rights, protections, a safe working environment and a wage that allows us to work, live and raise a family without having to forego food, shelter and warmth, or do we want an underclass working for $2 a day, unable to feed themselves, let alone consider raising a family?

Do we want a world where a bunch of fundamentalist zealots restrict your activities based on the words of some sky-god and the writings in a 2000 year old fictional book, or do we want a country where two people who love each other are not demonised and discriminated against?

You sit back and passively accept it, if you wish. For me, I know what kind of country I want to live in, and I’m prepared to fight to make it happen.

All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

Now, just try and find gutsy words like that on the MSM.


So you’re thinking of voting for Tony Abbott? Think again!

Think long and hard about voting for Abbott (photo from

Think long and hard about voting for Tony Abbott (photo from

One of the more difficult tasks of being writer is actually doing the writing. You know what to say but you can’t put it together with any eloquence or power. Your endless search for the right words bear no fruit. Then you stumble across a comment on social media that says exactly what you were hoping to say, though perhaps with much less eloquence, but certainly packing the punch. Some things are just better when written from the heart instead of the head.

A comment by well-known and popular blogger Cuppa, on Cafe Whispers did just that and his comment deserves to be a post on its own. It has a powerful message to all those planning to vote for Tony Abbott: think about the consequences. Look beyond September 14. Getting rid of Julia Gillard will give you the real Tony Abbott and it might not be the Tony Abbott you voted for. Victoria Rollison summed it up recently with her Spinach or shit article which summarised:

‘Voting for Tony Abbott because you don’t like Julia Gillard is like eating shit because you hate spinach’.

Before quoting Cuppa’s comment, first a little background. Cuppa, among others, have been engaged with the dregs of right-wing social media brigade for a number of months over their preference for the proverbial shit sandwich without any plausible reason why they don’t like spinach. The response has always been the same: “We don’t like spinach”. You can see a sample of their responses collated by Michael Taylor here and summarised as:

. . . parrot-fashion repeats of what we hear from the opposition and the media.

Anyway, on to Cuppa’s comment:

Just remember this, if the swaggering monkey finds himself propelled into the Lodge, it won’t be YOUR victory. You will be among the losers like the other 99 per cent of us.

It will be a victory for foreign billionaire Rupert Murdoch and the richest woman in the known universe Gina Rinehart. It will be a “victory” for the radical right-wing spewing hate jocks of talkback radio, who pretend to be on the side of ‘the working man’, but are in fact orifice greasers of some of the wealthiest, grubbiest, most powerful people on earth. It will be a “victory” for those sellouts at the national broadcaster who sold out their professional journalistic ethics and impartiality, the Institution which employs them, and the whole damn community they’re meant to serve, a victory in the name of toeing the one-way biased media line of Murdoch, Rinehart and international greed merchants.

When the monkey and his misfits start taking the country apart, the howls of protest will be loud and long. When they start siphoning wealth upwards from you, your relatives and neighbours to those who already have more wealth than they possibly know what to do with, you will start waking up.

When the recessions begin, when the interest rate hikes start to cripple home – and business buyers, and the unemployment figures start climbing, you will learn that you did a bad thing.

As the country turns to a Third World shithole – with clampdowns on freedom of speech, scandals and cronyism at the highest levels, degraded public services, declining health standards, rising mortality rates, armies of poverty, beggars on the streets, shanty towns for the masses, gated communities for the One Per Cent, an atmosphere increasingly clogged with dark noxious fumes – as this happens it will slowly dawn on you that you made a big mistake.

It won’t be your victory. It will be your Mistake. And your shame. Your loss. Your regret. And we won’t let you forget it. You will get no sympathy or forgiveness from us. You will get the blame and contempt due for what you, in your stupid brainwashed partisan spite, did to your and our country and all our descendants already here and yet to come.

That’s if we even see you around here any more when the stuff ups start happening. You’ll have so much to defend and make excuses for you’ll run out of Spin, as monkey brains f*cks up in big ways or small every day.

So enjoy your brief hubris, gibbering morons, the onset of agony is just around the corner . . .

It lacks my eloquence, but well said Cuppa.


What the media will be telling us in 2013

My apologies if this comes across as an anti-Tony Abbott post, for it is actually aimed at being an anti-mainstream media rant. Tony Abbott is a media darling and they are blinkered in their portrayal of him. It would not be so funny if Tony Abbott was a politician worth promoting. This is an election year so how about some balance?

The last twenty four months have been a pure delight for a political tragic. For that we thank the Coalition for providing us with some comedy relief in the form of Tony. The next 12 months should be equally as entertaining and is sure to be another Abbott cocktail of gaffes, brain farts, back-flips, thought bubbles and publicity stunts. Yet, the daily media mantra of “Mr Abbott says …” will be elevated to headline status. He’ll be in our faces from the time we have breakfast until we tuck ourselves in at night. It’s a scary thought.

Over the next 12 months it all gets serious.

He’ll again be exposing his hairy chest, running marathons, kissing babies, firing rifles, putting out bushfires and visiting cities on the eve of their destruction. He’ll still be the media show-pony grabbing the limelight and attention he so desperately needs.

For our mainstream media, 2013 will be Tony’s year.

I haven’t failed to notice that time and time again, the moment his leadership is at crisis point, comes a Newspoll to the rescue … followed by some shock jock, News Ltd, Channel Nine and ABC ‘usual suspect’ support. Yep, they’ll be there to save Tony’s bacon.

It has already started. Just when the whole world had woken up to the fact that Tony Abbott is a misogynist sledge hammer the media pluck his wife Margie out of his shadow to promote him as the perfect, dare I say it … man. And what a man he is, according to Peta Credlin, the latest media muppet. Such headlines are sure to dominate the media landscape over the next 12 months as Margie and Co compete with Paris Hilton as the tabloid gossip girls. The media will find people (that Tony himself may have even forgotten about) that will attest to all his goodness and purity. And no doubt too, the media will beat a path to John Howard’s door, swooning to the lavish praise the little man will bless upon him.

Over the last month he’s been presented as a lady’s man and a local hero. What will he be next week? A soldier? A savior? A saint? And closer to the election he may become the Pied Piper or Tarzan, or perhaps a miniature version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. There is nothing our media couldn’t portray him as.

He will be the expert voice on all things in the known universe. He will be humanity’s guiding light and of course his incompetent mumblings will be fed to us as though he was a divine entity. He will be the master of all knowledge. Dare I chose what pair of socks to put on in the morning without first consulting him?

Might I suggest that over the next 12 months the tabloid media change from printing on white paper to brown. It might be appropriate. Brown is a close colour to bullshit. Looking ahead, we’re going to cop it in the bucket loads.

For the independent and social media, 2013 will be Tony’s year too. But we won’t be as kind.

Looking ahead, the Fifth Estate will be there helping to expose every lie, mock every brain fart, dissect every thought bubble and fill in the gaps missed by our media goons. Since he became Leader of the Opposition we have been subjected to a stream of lies, misrepresentations, obfuscations and … a string of idiotic brain farts thinly disguised as policy which have been neither well thought out, nor costed. If the mainstream media won’t hold him to account, the independent media will be demanding that they do.

We’ll be pushing the message on all social media platforms and even at the hallowed family BBQs. People who don’t engage in social media – who only read/listen to our mainstream media – have no idea how politically incompetent and socially dangerous this man is.

2013 is the year to get in peoples’ faces. The might of the mainstream media can never be taken on, but by crikey we can still make a noise.

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