The journey from fence-sitting journalist to focusing on ESG has taken a while and I am now very comfortable with the title activist writer.
By Jackie Pearson
I remember returning to my hometown for a year in 1998 and working on the local Rural Press paper. The editorial training was brilliant. Journalists from all over the region were sent to Bowral for two full days of training on campaign journalism. It didn’t quite sit well with my idealistic notions of impartiality and objectivity but it was great fun and I embraced it totally. It was all about backing your community – your readers – and working with them to achieve their objectives to improve their lives and locality.
I’d also worked for six years from 1989 to 1994 at CHOICE Magazine. It was a wonderful training ground in good research and verification. We were always factual but were we impartial? Not really. We made judgements about products and services from the consumer’s perspective. We were champions of consumer rights. That didn’t always please the manufacturers or service providers who missed out on high rankings but we did the job without fear or favour and always felt like we were on the right side of the fence.
The opportunity came up to return to CHOICE from 1999 to about 2005 and I took some of the knowledge from that excellent Rural Press training with me to tackle issues around money and rights. I then carried it with me through 10 years as a Fairfax contributor.
My world changed when I decided I wanted to work where I lived and I took a job with a local community newspaper company on the NSW Central Coast. It was like working for the Shipping News. I loved it but it was a massive eye opener. Producing community news means very little separation between you and your reader. It’s an honest job – the journalistic equivalent of busking. The readers sneak up behind you in the office. They tell you secrets (and lies) and they hold you accountable.
You see their lives stripped bare and you see how they are governed stripped bare. You find the hidden poverty – the tent town in the scrub behind the local TAFE and the number of Second Bite grocery bags handed out daily at the local neighbourhood centre. You see the failing infrastructure, the hospital overload, the dole queue, the laneway drug deals. You get to know the civic leaders, business owners and local politicians – perhaps a little too well. You know exactly where the bodies are buried.
You see the land clearing, the poor town planning, the greed and neglect.
It could all drive you to drink or to keep quiet, just do your job, and get on with your life. A third option, the one I’ve decided to pursue, is to get down off the fence of purported journalistic impartiality and do some real community campaigning – just like I was taught way back when in Bowral. I will use my research and writing skills, and my understanding of the need to be factual, to expose the fault lines, discuss and hopefully improve the public discourse.
I’ve never, out of principle and good fortune, worked for News Limited and I never will. I know there are many hard working and credible journalists who do. Overall though, there is no impartiality in the conservative press. They adhere to the truth, to verifiable facts less and less but many in the community believe their reporting to be unbiased and factual.
We have, thankfully, some great progressive news sources to counter-balance the overwhelming power of the Murdoch press, none less than the Australian version of that great English masthead, The Guardian, good old Crikey and Michael West Media.
Giving it a crack
I’ve decided over the past nine months that I want my research and writings to focus on what I consider to be the most important issues in contemporary society – the environment, social justice and governance – ESG. I’ve decided to build my base locally by reporting on what I know best, my own community on the Central Coast of NSW. The Coast, sandwiched between Sydney and Newcastle, is often overlooked, under-funded and under-valued. It is a beautiful place with a rich Aboriginal cultural history that is completely neglected.
This region with its population climbing towards 400,000 and clinging to the east coast, is incredibly vulnerable to the climate emergency and yet, the policies and strategies in place to deal with that emergency are completely inadequate, in fact they are negligent.
This region’s sandplains and floodplains are being concreted over. Our drinking water catchment is tiny and vulnerable to coal mining. So many issues need tackling. They are all interconnected and all fall back on our failing democracy our weak governance at all three levels.
My business is called Truepenny Media. It is a multi-media service provider, an independent news publisher and a consultancy to not-for-profits and ethical businesses. It has integrity and experience at its core. Truepenny Media is committed to excellence in communications and news media.
We provide corporations, government authorities and NGOs with comprehensive communications services including research, article writing, public relations strategies, social media, digital and traditional content, campaigns, grant writing and community engagement.
We are driven by the importance of truth in the public interest.
We are independent publishers of news through a social and environmental justice lens via the website called thepoint.net.au
Since it was created in 2006 Truepenny Media’s clients have included the Australian Financial Review Smart Investor magazine and website, Key Media, State Custodians Mortgage Company, Rate City, ASIC and a range of small businesses and not-for-profits.
‘Independent’ media practitioners in Australia are a dime a dozen because contraction in the number of full time journalists has meant many formerly gainfully employed journos are now freelancing. On the other hand, we live in a content-hungry society where the need for professionally written digital content is greater than it has ever been.
Corporate work, government work, NGO work, particularly in the digital sphere is now available that has not been available before.
Organisations, including corporations, government authorities and NGOs are more likely to outsource their communications and media needs because it is not their core business and they know it needs to be done well for them to have messages that cut through to their target audiences. This opens up opportunities for specialists like Truepenny. I exploited this when I specialised in financial services. I’m now using that experience as a specialist in social and environmental justice media and comms.
I have the competitive advantage of a long and successful career and I have substantial expertise in digital comms and social media. I am a master of my craft. Quality is assured when you use my services.
The independent media industry is rapidly expanding in Australia. As old business models for journalism break down, a new wave of independent media experts have started their own businesses. Crikey was the first to do so and it has been around for 20 years. The latest iteration is being pushed by brands like Michael West.
Many of these businesses are multi-media – they have news websites but also produce video, podcasts and are very active across social media channels. From time to time they work in conjunction with more conventional news media outlets to break bigger stories. They are lean, steadfastly independent, set very high standards and often have the backing of funding organisations. They tend to work cooperatively and they see the competition as Nine and News Ltd rather than each other.
The good news is I have been able to quickly establish a local audience for The Point in terms of readers. I am now ready to offer sponsorship agreements to like-minded organisations who wish to support our ethos and reporting.
Good SEO is another key to the success of The Point along with, and equally important, a social media strategy
Products and services
Our service offering is broad and deep. We can research and write almost anything quickly, stylishly and accurately. We can edit for publishers and service providers, especially in areas where we have significant experience such as financial services and consumer rights.
We have a proven track record in media strategy development and implementation for corporate, government and NGO clients along with campaign management.
Our offering includes online content production, social media management, media training/advice, ghost writing, book writing, speech writing, report writing, submission writing, and grant writing. We are doing all that in tandem with producing The Point.
The Point is a digital news site that examines current events through a social and environmental justice lens immediately for a Central Coast audience and then for a broader audience.
The content has three levels – daily from a range of ESG sources, weekly articles and in-depth monthly investigations.
If your organisation or business wants to attract our target readership groups consider contacting us about our sponsorship agreements.
I’m starting from scratch but I have 34 years of editorial experience and a lifetime of determination behind me to produce The Point as a nimble, accessible and progressive digital news source. I am the new kid on the block but I do have some residual credibility and a solid reputation.
I’ve been blessed to have a wonderful career doing what I love but I am far from finished. If you want to reach an audience of educated, progressive, environmentally and socially switched on individuals, why not contact us about a sponsorship agreement? If you need editorial brilliance, we are here to help.
Wish me luck!