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Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

by Margo Kingston

Margo's archive is here

Well before blogging becomes a byword on the web, journalist Margo Kingston launches a pioneering weblog from Canberra. 'Webdiary' is a notebook of  happenings in the capital but quickly becomes a valuable forum for debate on the health of the nation. The site is highly commended by Walkley Award judges in 2001. 10th anniversary- a brief history of smh.com.au, Thursday April 21, 2005

Recently, my understanding of the nature of Webdiary and that of Fairfax suddenly and dramatically diverged, and as a result I ended my relationship with smh.com.au.

Webdiarists, please feel free to ask any questions you like about what happened and why in comments to this statement. I will answer all bona fide questions unless I am unable to do so due to legal considerations arising from the termination of my contract to write for, edit and publish Webdiary for smh.com.au for three years.

I’ve loved and honoured what I believed Fairfax stood for in our democracy since I was a teenager in Sir Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland, and have fought for the preservation of that belief throughout stints at the Times on Sunday, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

I am profoundly grateful to all those at the Sydney Morning Herald who helped give me a blank page on smh.com.au and let me go for it for five years, and who strengthened Webdiary through their time, effort and creativity. I’ll name only one, Tom Burton, without whom Webdiary would not have been born or turned 1, 2, 3 or 4 – or 5 on the 4th of July.

I have never worked harder than in those five years, and have never been so inspired by my line of work, due to the chance it gave me to communicate directly with readers on equal terms, and thus collaborate with them in the shaping and growing of our Webdiary.

The confidence I’ve gained through my professional and personal relationships with Webdiarists has empowered me, with their help, to take this step into the unknown. Why are they helping? Check out the opening statements of  Harry Heidelberg, Marc MacDonald, PF Journey, Jack Robertson, Craig Rowley, Jozef Imrich, Ian McPherson, David Roffey, Hamish Alcorn, Russell Darroch, and Polly Bush.

These are temporary digs. We have begun to build our new home, and hope to open it for your inspection and suggestions within a month.

Webdiarists, to continue the debate on Webdiary's latest pieces click the August archive and scroll down. And please feel to send me an email if you've got something to say that's not for publication.

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re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Welcome, everyone to the temporary new site.

Post away!

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

G'day. See Michael Luenig's elegy for the 'mate' at Mate: a workers' word, nicked by the PM. I made a similar point in 2003, at Waltzing the media, Howard style.

And see Martin Flanagan's piece in The Age, Revive Australia, the idea:

...Sometimes, working in the media in this country at this time, you sense this is a culture in free-fall, that it no longer knows exactly what it believes, or indeed if it believes in anything beyond self-interest, Anzac Day and the fortunes of our various sports teams - these, incidentally, being the interests of the Prime Minister who, as our politics become more presidential, becomes increasingly emblematic of us. Overlooked in this process are such aspects of his past as zero active interest in the environment, repeated flirtations with the politics of race and a farcical victory in the last election that he chose to fight on interest rates. Sometimes it seems that we are at risk of believing our own propaganda in the way that South Africans did during the apartheid era.

It is not the aim of this piece to argue for a particular party since the revival of our political culture may require us rethinking where the political polarity of our age actually lies. What I am saying first is that the energy of our public living in Australia is all wrong. These are momentous times and the only thing that seems in proportion to their sweeping import is our inertia. Young Sydney song-writer Ben Lee got it right when he titled his recent CD Awake is the New Sleep.

In certain key ways, our age has gone speeding back into the 19th century. Not exactly the time before the Labor Party but getting near. What has been lost is a belief to do with democratic politics, one from which its energy came - the confidence of the citizenry to control or influence the events of their time. The ideology of the hard right, which has swept all before it over the past two decades, has never been popularly supported except where it has merged with issues of race. Then came September 11, the Axis of Evil speech, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, etc...

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

G'day. From today's Crikey sealed section:

Margo Kingston ditches Fairfax and goes solo

by Christian Kerr

“This is my Thelma and Louise moment,” Margo Kingston says and bursts into laughter.

She's finally done it and gone solo. Her Webdiary has gone live at its own site (webdiary.com.au) this morning after a simmering dispute with the Sydney Morning Herald boiled over.

“Fairfax are cutting down on journalists at the same time as they are buying a dating agency,” says Kingston. “I believe Webdiary is a firm example of former Fairfax values.”

When it started, the Herald thought it had hidden the outspoken political correspondent away in the Webdiary. Instead, it has become one of Australia's liveliest political sites. And no matter what your views of Kingston, no-one can doubt her commitment to what she calls “having a go from the grassroots… trying to do new journalism in a way that breaks out of the model the powerful have captured."

Kingston says she's seeking to build a direct relationship of trust between readers and journalists, cutting out editors and sub-editors to build a space for debate and reporting. Her first aim is to consolidate her core readership. “It's a huge challenge without the pull of the Sydney Morning Herald," she says. “I'll be happy to retain 25%of the readership. I need the most engaged contributors.”

The new site opens with an explanation of the split with Fairfax. “I feel I owe readers an explanation,” Kingston says. She hopes to harness their energy to build the new site. “Why would readers want to contribute?” she asks. “The answer is direct accountability and getting empowered to shape Webdiary.

“My dream for Webdiary is to be part of a network of online publications by journalists committed to their role in a democracy. We need to help each other to get at the truth.”

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

What happened Margo? Not a hint or a trace before late last night that this would happen.

I confess I have been struggling with Fairfax of late - their idea of balance and fairness in reporting has taken a serious credibility hit in my view.

It started when The Age moved reporters from Adelaide and didn't re-hire Penelope Debelle. It beggars belief to me that someone of her calibre was overlooked except as a contributor. No-one else in Fairfax contributed so much, did so much work and worked so hard to expose the horrors of the reality of Woomera.

Now it's a no-go zone. Any clue why that is?

Then there is the saga of the Bakhtiyari family.

How come Fairfax journos got to accept DIMIA information which all proved to be wrong yet they won't correct the record. Even when David Corlett catalogued all the details in a book one of the offenders protected himself in a "damning with faint praise" review.

Good luck with the new site.

Margo: Thanks Marilyn. No hints?

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Well this is a surprise and a shock. I can't say that I am disappointed though, as now both Margo and Webdiary are more independant and not so controlled by big media. It must be a relief.

I truly hope that all goes well and Webdiary continues to grow, as it is quite special.

If I can be of any assistance or if I can do anything to help Margo, please do not hesitate to ask.

You go girl!.

Margo: You too, Jolanda.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

G'Day Margo. So what happened? Fairfax going too rightwing conservative for you? :-)

Good luck going solo. Hopefully the "usual suspects" will make the move too. It wouldn't be the same without them.

Margo: Hi Tony. No, that's not what happened. And I hope the usual - and unusual - suspects come over too. 'Corporate memory' is a priceless asset, I reckon.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Margo, just to continue holding the bastards to account as you have done. This is something I have said before but let's do it now you are more independent.

Everytime Howard opens his mouth the mainstream media take it as gospel or policy, obviously in the absence of policy.

How about each time he does it we dissect it. It could make for some very interesting debate.

For example, I got an email from Patty Fawkner at Uniya this morning with an address I wanted.

She added the word "mate" at the end.

Obviously a shot at the stupid debate from last week.

A debate on how come Howard got to appropriate a workers word from Germany and turned it into a diggers word for friends could cause some mirth if nothing else.

Accountability though is the word I think. Like how come people like Penelope Debelle are sidelined, and you, and yet there are some others who flourish by repeatedly publishing what proves to be wrong and never apologising.

Margo: We'd call it the dissection table?

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

I don't know anything about any of this Margo.

What happened? I don't know enough to ask anything more precise. I can't believe it was just because Fairfax bought a dating agency, that's a good line for Crikey perhaps, but can we have a bit more?

...or is it all hush hush due to your settlement with Fairfax?

It doesn't come as a surprise, however. You are better off without the big F.

I have very little PC access now outside work, and inside work I have little time. So I will simply have to wait until my life changes to allow me to contribute a bit more.

Needless to say, may you enjoy great success in this new e-venture.

Margo: Hi Robert. I terminated my contract with Fairfax today for material breach. The termination notice said:


To: John Fairfax Publications Pty Limited and
The Age Company Limited
c/- John Fairfax Holdings Limited
Level 19
201 Sussex Street
Sydney NSW 2000

1. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN by MARGO KINGSTON (“Contractor”) of termination of the contract dated on or about 29 June 2004 (“the Contract”) made between the Contractor and John Fairfax Publications Pty Limited and The Age Company Limited (“Fairfax”) whereby:

(a) the Contractor was engaged to write for, edit, produce and publish a web diary for 46 weeks a year for a term of 3 years from 28 July 2004 (“the Term”);

(b) Fairfax agreed:

(i) to set up the web production system to enable the Contractor to efficiently produce web diary from outside Fairfax facilities;


(ii) to maintain and host web diary at all times during the Term.

2. NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS GIVEN by the Contractor on the grounds of breach by Fairfax of its obligations under the Contract referred to in paragraph 1(b)(i) and (ii), notice and particulars of which have been given by the Contractor to Fairfax and on behalf of the Contractor by her solicitors to Fairfax on 27 July 2005 and which breaches have not been remedied.

Dated: 22 August 2005.

SIGNED: ------------------------------------------------

Margo Kingston (Contractor)

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Margo and Webdiary team,

Congrats on the right move. It's been a long-time coming but truly independent journalism is simply not possible under a corporate banner. Sadly, few journalists really understand this.

Good luck. And yes, the real agenda behind Fairfax will be make for interesting reading.


re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Margo, a new stage and more to come. More power to you and those who share your concerns.

Thank you and all those who have helped person the 'diary through the hazardous shoals and currents of this strange world.

Long may the ship sail on to cleaner, calmer waters.

Margo: Welcome aboard, Bob. I need some heavy hitters over here early.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Holy moly!! Did not see this coming, but then, I wasn’t looking, so that might explain it.

Margo, I know I am very interested in your core personal reasons, or how you perceive, the 'divergence', if you are able to summarise, in some manner, that would be great. The mass media is such an homogenized beast these days that some explanatory notes from someone inside would certainly be appreciated, within whatever legal limitations that you are able to state your view.

On a trivial note: they let you keep the name Webdiary? Curious - they did not want it, or the name was yours?

Thanks so much.

Margo: Hi Caz. Ummm... it's really hard to talk freely right now, as you can imagine. I wrote a chapter in a little book out soon called Barons to bloggers: confronting media power which sets out my 'divergence' in broad terms. I'll see if I can get permission from Melbourne University Press to publish it on Webdiary sometime this week.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Thanks Margo.

I do what I can as time and circumstances and the constant refrain "must spend more time on my thesis" permit. I admit WD tends to distract me but I will get there - thesis not due till '09. And WD is doing its part in a job that desperately needs to be done.

Some refuse to see what is happening, I try to help WD to open their eyes.

Ignorance is unfortunate, wilful ignorance is a sin.

Marilyn, power and strength to you. Thank you for your efforts.

To Margo and all those willing hands, thanks again for providing this forum.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Good luck and best wishes, MK and fellow Webdiarists.

Margo: and to you too, Jack. Thanks for everything.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Yeah why not the dissection site? WE dissect the words as they are said and see what is behind them.

Anyone who looks past the surface can see what they really mean in this world of spin and counter spin.

I don't suppose for example Howard has ever really called anyone mate with any comfort in his life, doubt he has any.

So what was it for?

To show the punters he is an ordinary bloke looking out for them while taking away their livlihoods, selling their assets, selling out their rights and so on.

I personally find the word "mate" reminds me of rutting dogs being bred for best of show.

Any others.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Hi Margo, and congratulations on developing Australia's Independent Media.

Margo: Thanks Robert. See you soon!

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

I see Marilyn made it over here OK. Phew, I thought my daily loon dose would be missing.

Well, well. I guess we all saw it coming when they hired Miranda and G Henderson. Marilyn, now you know how us middle of the road thinkers have been feeling about Fairfax for years.... I just never thought I'd hear you complain that they weren't pink enough for you. Perhaps if The Age sack AJ I'll renew my subscription.

Margo: Andrew, thanks for dropping by. I let the loon thing through because I'm happy you're here. Just this once, OK?.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Congratulations Margo for once again taking a stand on principle. It must be scary stepping away from the institutional support of fairfax, and I admire your courage.

I don't agree that our culture is in free fall. Rather we're in a time of profound change, change that takes two or three turnings in a single life-time.

We have always had predators amongst us who will abuse and frighten and attack in order to get their own way.

As a people we've learned many times that the only defence is for ordinary people to build their morality and courage in ways which defy the bullies and bring comfort and aid to the weak - so that every citizen might enjoy and exercise their rights of self-determination.

How it plays out this time will depend on whether citizens make the hard choices, or avoid the pain by withdrawing into private life and hoping the problems go away.

You have clearly chosen the activist path. More power to you.

Margo: You're never too old to have a go...

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Gutsy and typical MK.

I look forward to your unfettered comments with the independent approach.

A fan from many years back, I have admired from afar (Western Australia) and hope to now get a regular dose of your well informed provocative reports.

Very best wishes - may you be the breath of fresh air blowing across our political world, bringing information and inspiration for us all to get more involved in politics.

Margo: Hi Jack. I'm in Perth next month - are you a townie?

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Lots of light hits from a light hitter like me might help the heavier hitters. Let's make our own luck and make this work.

We need it to work because the end result could be a few more enlightened people out there with eyes wide open. Goodness knows we need more of them.

Fair weather, Margo!

Margo: You look like a pretty heavy hitter on the home page, Rubens!

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Hi Margo

I had a sense that a break was coming. However, all the best with the new phase of Webdiary!

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Good luck, Margo. You are now on the faves list in your own right. TP-S

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Well done Margo and the team. It will be good to see the forum evolve technically as it already has in other ways. Webdiary provides me with a fascinating way to connect with people and ideas from all over the country and beyond. Your work is much appreciated.

Margo: Yep, Michael, the new site will be open source and very responsive to what readers need and what techies can create. I never knew anything about the technology behind the net, but I realised this year that without control of that you're not in control.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Dear Margo,

I just realised the move - no wonder there were no updates on the original site. I have always enjoyed reading 'most' of the comments and have contributed occasionally and will continue. Good Luck.

Margo: Thanks for dipping your oar in, Surjit. Much appreciated.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Dear Margo,

Warm personal wishes for the new venture, I will continue to be a regular reader of Webdiary and will be glad to contribute articles on issues you might wish to suggest to me from time to time. And of course join in the wild fray of correspondence when the spirit moves me!

What we all have to do, I suggest, is hold onto the liberal ideals that truth and accountability and fair judicial process matter to us all. To me, Webdiary shouldn’t just be about debating abstract political or social ideas unrooted in any concrete political reality. To me, public debate is about the search for objective truth (yes, I still believe there is such a thing – otherwise I wouldn’t bother, I’d be out in the garden).

Effective political action proceeds from knowing and disseminating facts about our society and comparable societies . And we really need to understand facts now, when so many people are being well paid to disseminate false realities to us. That’s a big part of the reason why our culture is in “free fall” as Martin Flanagan aptly put it – so many of us don’t know where the moorings or reference points are any more, we are falling down the hole into the madness of Alice’s Wonderland.

The current Hicks case is a very good example. A whole false reality has been constructed by governments over the past 3 years. Bush and Howard might as well throw Hicks in a river with lead weights to see if he floats – or tie him to a stake and light a bonfire under him to see if he burns. That is about the level of due rational process we are now seeing around the demonised scapegoat figure that David Hicks has become. And this just should not be acceptable to any Australian regardless of his or her politics. It contradicts all our core values.

The two biggest social dangers we face in Australia now are:

1. loss of our civil liberties under the guise of a war on terrorism;

2. ignition of xenophobic anti-Muslim violence in our society.

Without freedom to express civil dissent, the end of that road will be facism. And it is not impossible here if we don’t actively defend our real core values – decency, sense of fair play for all, caring for the underdog, official accountability etc.

Good luck and good wishes!

Margo: Thanks for coming over, Tony!

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Margo, I was wondering how long things were going to go on as they were. I was never game to ask – not, of course, that it was any of my business – but I did just wonder how it all worked.

Anyway, it’s happened now and I wish you the very, very best in your new endeavours. I needn’t tell you how extremely important this is for all those who care and wish for a better Australia and a better World. I hope you’ll allow me to continue to make some small offerings toward that end by being occasionally confronting, sometimes annoying but always well intentioned.

Although my own time and resources are limited, if there is anything you think I might be able to help out with please do not hesitate to ask.

Margo: Sure will. Thanks Damian.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

G'day. Gee whiz, get out into the real world and the competition starts pronto.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Well someone sure seems to be enjoying herself. I can almost see you smiling through the ether. Congratulations, you're an entrepreneur.

Margo: Huh? Me?

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

So Margo if I want to call Andrew Mills a right wing ranter just this once you will let it through, right?

On a more serious not Andrew, what on earth has being pink enough got to do with anything? I just want honesty and fair reporting.

Why should journos of any stripe be allowed to libel and slander innocent people over many years and not say a few mea culpas.

The OZ admitted they were wrong about the Bakhtiyari case on many levels, they worked their butts off last year to make that known.

The Age never did. Not once. I demand better, be it from the right, left or centre.

And I am pretty much a centrist - extremists at both ends drive me to despair and distraction.

I am also not a loon. I am as sane as any person on this earth and I have this facility - I never forget anything, I have a photographic memory and instantaneous recall of things.

Which serves to make me dangerous I guess to those who seek to cover up.

Media Watch name names when journos stuff up big time. I think all independents should be able to do the same.

Margo: Yep, another just this oncer.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

It's great to see that no matter what happens Webdiary will still be around.

That's the biggest compliment anyone's given me for a bloody long time, RB. Thank you.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Congratulations Margo! All my best wishes for your success.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Oh, gosh darnit Margo.... OK, no more calling her a (delete) :-(

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Congratulations Margo! Happy Independence Day! There is something strangely comforting that on the first day of the independent Webdiary, Marilyn Shepherd has raised the topic of the Bakhtiyari family.


Great to see this baby up and running! All the best.

Margo: Heh, she's five, remember? The temporary site is going fine so far - touch wood. Thanks for setting it up for me, Harry.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Hey Margo,
Go Girl !!
L&P, Andy

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

For me, the disappointment of seeing the SMH decline, or perhaps succumb is a better word, over the last few years has been leavened by the growing diversity and quality of news analysis and comment on blogs etc. But it was reassuring that common sense got at least a look-in at one of the nation's major newspapers.

Now it has gone, and what's left? A rather gruesome line-up of establishment toadies like Devine and Henderson and that dumbo Paul Sheehan, with neocons like Michael Gawenda trying to ram bullshit down our throats every other day (his effort today is almost dizzying in it's arse about face historical revisionism). Not much nutrition there, and no original thought at all. All the way with USA, via the Liberal Party, with our legs wide open.

Goodonyou Margs; keep plugging away, that's all any of us can do. You will be appreciated by people with heart and soul as well as brains whichever forum you choose.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Margo and CC bar staff:

I was not expecting a move like this so soon or with so little warning, but now that it's happened, it is great that Webdiary exists free of corporate tentacles.

Here's hoping that all the current reader-and-writer-ship move across promptly. And recommend the New-look Independent Webdiary to their mates...

Long may Webdiary show the corporate pseudomedia how to do media commentary, debate and public information properly!

Andy C

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

What a seachange. Wow.

Congratulations and best wishes for success.


re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Straight into the nitty gritty, Margo.

I just got a transcript through from the PMs office. When asked by a journalist: “How did you come up with the guest list of Muslim leaders and what's your response to the concern out there that people believe the group isn't representative?” the Prime Minister replied thus: “I don't think the community shares that view. I think the community agrees with me that you don't give a platform to extremists. If I had invited extremists tomorrow, they would dominate the doorstops, they would make their extreme remarks. That would swamp the media coverage of the event and it would undermine the good work of the leaders of 99 per cent of the Muslim community in Australia who are trying to do the right thing, are trying to work with their fellow Australians and don't want prominence given to extremists.”

This is classic Howard. His politics is driven by presumption. He seems always to justify his thinking by invoking the people’s endorsement before they even know what’s actually going on. In this case, all Howard has succeeded in doing is marginalising and alienating those that he considers extremist Muslims (not to mention confirming their belief that Howard is arrogant and racist thus pissing them off even more than they already are!)

Had he invited those he viewed as extremists along, who knows, he may have been able to moderate them or, at least, get some kind of affirmation from then that they are not as bad as we have been led to believe thus relieving some Australians anxieties. At worst he would at least have discovered who the extremists really are.

Howard’s attitude is confrontational and does not serve the best interests of Australia.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Oh man, this is gonna be comedy gold. I've got no doubt that this comment will be 'moderated'. Still, I can't wait to see the slow motion train wreck that is Web Dairy implode under the weight of it's own idiocy. Free the mind! Eat the brains!

Margo: Full name next time, maaate, or bugger off. See Webdiary ethics.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Congrats, Margo and all the crew! From the Project SafeCom website celebratory page:

"In the middle of this landscape sits Webdiary. Its new header proudly reminds you of the patron power which forms the cornerstone of this forum."

"With more reader comments per item than perhaps anywhere in Australian media, Margo excels in personally implementing and maintaining a form of online democracy. And it doesn't come without professionality, Webdiary ethics or experience: Margo is a trained and seasoned journalist, who worked as a Fairfax political commentator and who provided Canberra comments to Phillip Adams' Late Night Live. She also did a stint as the Chief of Staff at SMH."

"But perhaps WD's main feature is this: I reckon Margo would close Webdiary if no comments come in to the material written at the forum - and that measure determines that it is both a Blog and an online current affairs newspaper. No other online magazine would close if readers do not submit comments to the articles they read online. Webdiary would - and that is its unique position in Australia."


re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Margo. You Go Girl! Whatever your reasons, this freedom is amazing. I have long thought that the reverence displayed towards Fairfax was just bonkers anyway!

Margo: Noelene, if you promise to behave yourself, would you like to bring your unique neo-leftie-chick perpective to bear in a piece or two? I think I've lost Darlene. Are you game to play?

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Ok, what's this about "Focus on Fairfax, Column: Apply Within"? Is this a request for someone to write a "Trash Margo's former employer just for kicks", media-watch style column? For some reason this reminds me of the Simpson's episode where Homer quits his job and plays Mr. Burns's head like a bongo.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists


Congratulations to you all on making the move. I've no doubt you've done it for the very best of reasons, and to be honest, I'm surprised its taken so long. Best of luck with it all.

Any chance of you having a life along the way now?

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

In June 2005 Reportage Medialog noted that Margo Kingston’s webdiary could really be considered as an example of citizen journalism. ‘Webdiary is in fact a pioneer of this kind of journalism and Margo has an incredible commitment to working directly with her readers - many not at all of her own political persuasion - to engender real participatory discussion.’ Citizen Journalism Alert

Your pioneering work never seems to be finished Margo ;-) Citizen Journalism Alert
Double diary, as Margo Kingston goes freelance

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Good luck, Margo.

The time is rapidly approaching where sites like this and Crikey (plus, of course, the ever faithful Radio National) will be my first sources for information and debate about Australian politics. I am so jaded by mainstream commercial media, and frankly, I just don't trust them.

I hope this enterprise is a wild success. I can see no reason it won't!

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Congratulations Margo on your gutsy move. ‘Crash and burn?’ you once asked... soar and fly I reckon, with such courage in your wings. Wishing you good winds and clear skys.

Michael Leunig’s expose of Howard as a brazen usurper is timely. Howard’s capacity to anticipate and project the lie as the people’s necessary belief is consummate. Any residual public doubts, or considered debate, on his proclamations are soon buried in that nasty grave with ‘unAustralian’ on the headstone.

One thing that is not so often mentioned is what appears to be the complete absence of an artistic bone in his body. What does Howard like? Cricket - a competition, a team game of fitness, talent, planning, tactics, surprise and perserverance with the aim of winning. (Oh it’s all about the game? Sure, ask the loser or someone who comes fourth.) What does sport reflect in a society? All of the above, lots of training, and lots of money.

The arts are different. They need that “connection with the ether of creativity” (quote an exPM). Money can’t buy that. It’s inherent and nurtured. It responds and reflects as an individual responds and is changed by an experience. It relies on honesty. It is beyond the control of the executive (though they try, think Shostakovich). It is the real record of what a society is experiencing, the other record of the everyman. With all due recognition of enormous individual effort, I think it fair to suggest that under Howard we are stagnant.

Is Webdiary a work of art? Definitely.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Thank God for Crikey! If they hadn't run with this I would still be trying to read your old SMH site and wondering where the hell all the new articles/comments had got off to. Now I have bookmarked you and so the world once again (just) retains a sense of sanity.

Good luck to you, I hope it works well and you can continue to place a crust on the table from this enterprise.

By the way, do you want those who comment to have their email displayed by holding their mouse over the name? It doesn't bother me but could bother others.

For example, we can all see that CB has his/her web address at http://bastardsinc.blog.com (sic) (pun intended).

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

So, you allege a breach of contract (contract being a concept sacred to the heart of our present Chief Justice) and you laud it on the internet. Therafter, you refuse to reveal the terms of the settlement your lawyers have negotiated (no doubt in terms that you approved as being in your commercial interest). Yes, that's what we lawyers do - bastards aren't we - giving effect to your commercial desires?

Still you wish me to subscribe to your online rag?

Seems fair to me.

Chin up toots.

Yours aye,

Malcolm B. Duncan

Margo: Malcolm, you have jumped to false conclusions. I terminated for material breach and reserved my rights after more than two months of legal negotiations failed to reach a settlement. I now have no income. There will never be a subscription to Webdiary. It's there for people to participate in democratic debate and activity, and a price for entry is inimical to that purpose.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

Congratulations Margo, real independence and exciting times. I will of course continue to read you and your contributors as I always have.

Thanks Philip. Webdiarist Sue Roffey reckons that something good - although often completely unexpected - happens to everyone she's seen jump off the metaphorical cliff with both feet.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

The best part of this is that I no longer have to open the SMH web page - not ever again. So I'll set up a direct link to Realfooty so I never have to look at The Age main page again either.

re: Personal opening statement to Webdiarists

It remains hard to stay on Webdiary, with its bold proclamation of the classic principles of journalism (A Spire! Yesss!) because the damn thing keeps kicking over into smh with dates Back There (April, May). Obviously the archive doing this. I can get smh anytime, please cut the cord!

Margo: Hi Judith. There are serious legal issues surrounding the Webdiary archive. I'm not sure what will happen there.

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