In a unique partnership between journalist Margo Kingston and Macquarie University The Twitter-sphere will soon be used to cover the 2013 election campaign. Kingston, in collaboration with Prof. Catherine Lumby of the Media Department, will trawl Tweets under the alias @NoFibs.
Author of the poignant and analytical critique of former PM John Howard, Not Happy, John (2004), Kingston is out on a truth-crusade to question the motivations and duties of citizen journalists. She says @NoFibs will be a successor to her website Webdiary; which was the first mainstream media outlet for citizen journalism in Australia.
Lumby, who is a close friend and colleague of Kingston says, “The Twitter project tests the challenges and opportunities inherent in using social media to cover the election and promote citizen journalism.” Approaching election coverage in this fashion has not been done before. She says, “Citizen journalism is important because it supports active democracy. Non-professionals work with media professionals to produce news and commentary.”
With web trolling and personal vitriol ever present in the web-sphere there remains the issue of whether the participants will fall into the same shows. Lumby says, “Citizen journalists are distinguished by their a commitment to accuracy, an avoidance of hate speech, a respect for privacy, a commitment to transparency. These are values that we need to think carefully about upholding and promoting in the online and social media era – the Twitter project is an experiment in precisely that.”
Both Kingston and Lumby hope to see involvement from the Macquarie University students and satff, as well as their friends and colleagues. ‘We want people to report, to write commentary or simply to engage.
Writer’s notes: I co-wrote this piece with Kristofer Gilmour. A version of this article was first published in Grapeshot Magazine Issue 5, 2013: Memories.