Monday, 25 March 2013

Thanks to those who helped ... and look what happened!

Yesterday at about 3.30pm AET I started writing this post about how big business had hardly felt the carbon price and how there are many opportunities to grow the economy by keeping it. It took about 45 minutes to finish and publish. But then I decided to push it hard on social media because it's something that I am passionate about. This involved Twitter as well as Facebook. Many people helped. The response showed that many, like me, are tired of seeing stories in the MSM about the ALP's leadership while the polls show that Tony Abbott is getting off scott-free, and with his policies uncontested. We've got his Plan to look at now, so, I thought, why not look at it? Big thanks to those who retweeted that top link. The story has had almost 600 pageviews as of this morning (about 12 hours after it first went up), but remember the matter of scale. That sounds like a lot but the top-ranking story on the Sydney Morning Herald website has over 74,000 pageviews!

It's germane to mention the Herald here because after that massive effort last night with that blogpost, finally we see a story about the carbon price on their website. I don't think it's a coincidence. MSM editors see what's trending in cyberspace and pitch stories accordingly. So here's a business journalist with the paper telling us that Australians don't understand the repercussions of the carbon price, using a study from a local company. Most people have it wrong, the study says. The costs are lower than what they think. Many people even think it has affected the price of petrol - and it was set up to specifically exclude petrol. He then blames the ALP for not "selling" it properly. What has really happened is that the inexhaustible force of the public's curiosity about the parliamentary leadership has sucked leaks from politicians into the mobile phones of journalists, who have pumped out the spill stories as fast as they can to satisfy the craving. This stream of stories blocks the making of stories on other topics, such as the carbon price. (And remember, SMH editors will be watching Peter Martin's story to see how it fares in the popularity stakes; how it goes, so will go the future stories. The agenda. Want more stories like this? Then clickety click!)

So take a bow, Twittersphere. Take a bow, Facebookers. And thanks especially to the Facebook friend who put the story up on Reddit; that made a big difference. You have all made a difference because without your involvement Peter Martin's story wouldn't be on the SMH website this morning, I'm convinced of it. This is grassroots media in its purest form: people turn their passion into change. Let's make Tony Abbott accountable for the misinformation he's peddling about the carbon price in his Plan. It was 45 minutes of writing and hours and hours of promotion on social media that have started to do that.

As for why it only took 45 minutes to write the blogpost it helps to remember that I worked as a freelance journalist for three-and-a-half years with my major focus on innovation. Innovation in public policy and innovation in technology. So this kind of material is implanted deeply in my brain. I first wrote about rising gas prices here in the middle of last year on the back of a couple of months' research into the subject. That research was sparked by a magazine commission that threw off a second story that another magazine agreed to take. All-up it was 2.5 months of work on two stories. The second story, for The Global Mail, fell a bit flat because it was long and heavily-researched and took the long view. It wasn't something that had hit the headlines in the Age or the Australian yet; though it will do so. But the thing to remember in all this writing and publishing, including your publishing links on social media, is that it's the public that drives the agenda to a large degree. Ask Ben Herscovitch from the CIS, a think tank. In this ABC video, which runs for about seven minutes, he mentions opinion polling, which he describes as a kind of periodic election that serves to deeply influence public policy and the political agenda. Do you think the government and the media are powerful? That's wrong - it's you, the reader of this blogpost, who has the power to heavily influence the way the public debate goes, and therefore to determine how the issues fall in the public sphere. That's an awesome power.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy to do my little bit, Matt =8^)