Let Them Tell Their Story


I am not one to quote myself. It seems terribly self-indulgent but just this once….

I was interviewed on the (now sadly defunct) ABC Media Report on Radio National on 19th October 2006 about changing media.  I was asked about the role for the ABC as media fragments, and I said:

(The ABC) has a role “in helping the country come to terms with itself, and share some of the richness that there is out there…”

“help that group, that organisation, those individuals, tell their story..you’ll end up with thousands of stories..from communities..”

I was sad to see so little opportunity made by ABC Local Radio in capturing the stories from the recent Bush Fires. 774 Melbourne  did a brilliant job gettting out there on live radio and meeting and greeting and acting as the default news information service about the fire situation. But no attempt has been made to capture and share those thousands of stories from people caught up in the tragedy in a written form. Why not open up the ABC web site, and invite everyone who has a story, however small scale, to write in and upload it on line.  The most interesting could be highlighted on a daily basis.  Crikey – Australia’s online newspaper – showed just how important this is, by posting one person’s account of the Marysville fire in an hour by hour format yesterday, and it was riveting reading. And a story that deserves to be heard.  How many other thousands of stories are out there? This insight and knowledge will be lost over the coming weeks and months as memories fade.  What a great role for a national broadcaster to capture this and preserve it and shape it so it can be digested by the wider population!

If the ABC got local communities involved, they could offer computers to people without access now, or even find people who could type in the stories for those unable to do it themselves.

The ABC is asking for photos but they are being used in photo-collages.  Get the stories.  Get the insights. Get the know-how.  Get the raw emotion. Share the knowledge.  This would be a fantastic record that no one else is capturing and show what an important role the ABC has in contemporary Australia.

And if I were running the ABC, I would package the whole lot up and make it available to the Royal Commission that has been convened to investigate the issues around the fires and make recommendations for changes in law, policy and emergency services. It could even be published as a great book together with all those photos, and the proceeds being given to the Bushfire Appeal.


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