Contemporary Communications Challenges Impeding Evidence-Based Policy Implementation

[A client] requested a proof-of-concept project intended to address a number of Australian communications challenges. These obstacles currently impede the implementation of evidence-based policy that would yield social, economic, and environmental benefits for all Australians.

Many of these obstacles are the product of deliberate, networked disinformation. These are fuelled by a coalition of interests including - but not limited to - the fossil fuel industry, neo-liberal ideologues, and the global far right

These interests function symbiotically with sympathetic media outlets and governments via shared resources and mutual message amplification. Numerous sophisticated communications tools have been developed and/or harnessed to this effect. The extent of this disinformation apparatus’s reach is only beginning to be understood.

Much has been made of ‘fake news’ outlets and their capacity to influence political events. Various attempts at combating this scourge are currently in development. The true challenge, however,  lies in addressing disinformation emerging from established media outlets and governments themselves.

The Australian information ecosystem is further compromised by the highest concentration of media ownership in the democratic world. That ownership is primarily in the hands of those hostile to science and diversity. This hostility in turn augments global far right disinformation operations in this country, threatening Australia’s social, economic, and environmental wellbeing.

The globally networked disinformation apparatus has only been made possible through funding and support from a variety of sources - both government and private. Fortunately, due to the relatively low costs of digital publishing and communications, a law of diminishing returns applies. This allows more modestly funded operations to compete with larger outfits and even state actors.

Indeed, the far right has revealed its tactics and methodologies sufficiently that these can now be harnessed and appropriated by those committed to evidence-based information and social cohesion.

Any such response, however, must ensure that it does not contribute to further political polarisation. Unfortunately, much activist Australian media has failed in its attempt to convince sectors of the population that they are subject to disinformation. This failure is attributable to ‘echo-chambers’ and the - likely unintended - impression that the messaging is coming from ‘elites’ who are contemptuous of ‘aspirational’ Australians.

Proposed, is a project primarily committed to two complementary functions: the dissemination of evidence-based information and social cohesion. It targets an audience currently unwilling or unable to source good information, of which there is fortunately an abundance. The challenge lies not in the information’s availability but in its packaging, sensibility, and reach.

The mission is at once simple and ambitious: it seeks to disrupt the current Australian information ecosystem for those currently underserved by good sources of information, to engage on issues that matter to them, and to do so in a way that is authentic, enjoyable, and meaningful.

The proposed project is above all a service to Australians. With adequate resources, there is unlimited potential for the media offerings it could produce - from written content, to videos, podcasts, and music. It could also showcase the creative talents of a variety of people, including marginalised groups who are otherwise unable to gain entry into the public sphere. Amplification of various voices in the pursuit of good information and greater national unity would provide a mutually reinforcing counter to the dystopian vision currently offered by the networked global far right and its allies.

Such a project also has the potential to expand  - as it stands, a news aggregator that transforms complex stories into digestible informational product - to a platform that can serve as a multi-directional engagement medium: social media that rewards good information and pro-social online behaviours. This would stand in stark contrast to the current social media offerings which are fuelled by conflict and controversy, without any concern for accuracy or the social good.

This project has enormous commercial potential; however, its greatest contribution would be the repairing of the Australian social fabric, which in turn might provide a model that could be replicated throughout the world.

Praise For Alex Fein's Work

'A gifted self starter'

I have known Alex Fein for 3 years. A gifted self starter, I would highly recommend her as an asset to any business, she has demonstrated an ability to handle a steep learning curve and achieve great results at the same time. I more than happy to provide this recommendation/reference.

- David Laloum IT Consulting & Project Management

'Able to consume and synthesise enormous amounts of information'

Alex is able to consume and synthesise enormous amounts of information and is obsessive about truth and accuracy. She conducts herself with responsibility and endless drive.

- Sivan Barak Bialobroda

'Strategic, creative, meticulous and bold'

Alex Fein is unique. She is strategic, meticulous, creative and bold. She was able to achieve what no one thought was possible.

- Associate Professor David Zyngier - Southern Cross University

'Her moral clarity and courage set her apart'

Alex’s is dedicated and thorough. She was wonderful to work with. Her moral clarity and courage set her apart.

- Dassi Erlich - Author: Beyond A Survivor

'A formidable intelligence... obsessive about truth and accuracy'

Alex has a formidable intelligence with a keen ability to interpret and decipher complex information rapidly and accurately. Alex has in depth knowledge of web communications and is one of the best online community builders I have ever known.

- Yoram Symons - Magic Industries

'Impressed by her intellect and ability to express complex ideas... into easily digestible content - an exceptional talent'

I’ve have always been impressed Alex Fein's intellect and ability to express complex ideas and articulate them into clever and easily digestible online content.
Alex strives to maintain her integrity over popularity which again, is a very rare commodity. Alex also manages to balance this with much respect and fairness which adds value to all the work she produces. She is an exceptional talent.

- Jennifer Weinstein - abuse survivor advocate

'She works tirelessly and passionately'

Alex works tirelessly and passionately. She is professional, organised and fair.

- Jacqui Schiff Saunders - Lonely Planet

'I highly recommend her'

Alex has shown a real strength in developing forums that often have spirited debate, ensuring a safe space in which to do so. I highly recommend her.

- David Langsam - Editor Biotech Daily Ag & Vet Weekly

'Commitment to transparent & accurate information sharing'

I have known Alex Fein and her work in the community for around 5 years. I have been impressed with Alex’s understanding of the potential of digital platforms such as social media to lead to effective social change. Her commitment to transparent and accurate information sharing, together with her strong grasp of media and digital skills, have supported the creation and growth of thriving online communities.

- Dr Miriam Faine Adjunct Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Monash University

'Knows what she's doing in the digital publishing space... completely transparent, ethical & accountable'

Alex Fein not only knows what she's doing in the digital publishing space but she also has an unwavering dedication to delivering the truth without hesitation. Alex is clever, articulate, completely transparent, ethical and accountable.

- Kathy Kaplan OAM - Founder Impact For Women

'exceptional track record of building digital communities which prioritise rigour and decency'

I have witnessed Alex Fein's exceptional track record of building thriving digital communities which prioritise rigour and decency for the past decade. She is driven by her commitment to the democratisation of good information.

- Dr Larry Stillman - Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of IT Lead Researcher, PROTIC Monash-Oxfam Project for Information Empowerment in Bangladesh Monash University

'Vast experience - I highly recommend her'

I’ve come to know Alex through a large, engaged & active twitter community - and now know her as someone who is knowledgeable, passionate & very concerned about the state of Australia’s media landscape & its impact on our democracy. She has vast experience in building & connecting online professional communities - & unique skills in examining both virtual & real life communities to determine their makeup, news consumption habits & how this motivates their actions & decisions. I think she’d provide valuable skills for your organisation.

- Denise Shrivell - media commentator and advertising executive 

'Robust and immediate engagement'

Alex has created organic media spaces that have allowed for robust and immediate engagement. It's a modern media platform that has given people a new way of engaging with current affairs and issues.

- Josh Burns MP - Member for Macnamara

'Provocative, punchy and spin free'

Meta and Galus - provocative, punchy and spin free news and debate. I didn't know what was missing until Alex created it. Thank you!

- Stephanie Hodgins May - Greens Candidate for the Seat of Macnamara

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We work on lands stolen from the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people of the Kulin Nation. Until there is redress, we ask for forgiveness and forbearance. We pay respect to their Elders, past and present and stand with them in their struggles for recognition, liberation, and justice.