The word "independent" has two implications in the work of journalist Jon Stephenson. One is that he is able to operate in places like Afghanistan and Iraq free of the direction of a government whose idea of the story is quite different to his. The other is that he works on an absolute shoestring.
We need journalists like Jon to keep writing brave, well-researched stories like his feature for May's Metro magazine, 'Eyes Wide Shut', which explored the gulf between what our own SAS was asked to do in Afghanistan and what our own government told us. Indeed, Jon is preparing to return to Afghanistan to follow up on related stories.
A few of us have decided to help him get there and do that. In the absence of meaningful financial support for him from established media organisations, we're crowdsourcing journalism. With a party.
Gone By Christmas is a fundraiser for Jon, on Tuesday December 13 at the Horse and Trap pub in Mt Eden.
I will be the MC for the evening (leaving Jose Barbosa to do all the hard work of actually producing the event), which will feature the world's first Journalism Idol. Over to Jose for a description:
In this brutal and hard-hitting competition TV3 News journalist Mike McRoberts will fight it out with broadcaster Mikey Havoc, comedian Rose Matafeo and fellow TV3 reporter Tova O’Brien to see who can deliver the news under pressure and claim the title of "King Journo". Of course, no talent show is complete without a panel of uncompromising judges, so the trio will be assessed by veteran current affairs journalist and Media7 producer Phil Wallington, Kiwi FM's Wammo (Glen Williams), and New Zealand Herald columnist Tracey Barnett.
Music will be provided by the New Zealand Herald's infamous DJ triumvirate; Alan Perrott, Scott Kara and Liam Dann.
Lots in a silent auction on the night include framed photos taken by Jon in Afghanistan, a special edition of the Phoenix Foundation’s Buffalo with a one-off cover by Sam's dad Tom Scott, tickets to Lawrence Arabia’s Town Hall gig, original art by Dylan Horrocks, a tour of the TV3 newsroom escorted by Mike McRoberts (followed by a meal with Mike), a full set of Nicky Hager's books (including the hard-to-find Secret Power and Secrets and Lies), signed by the author, and a collection of poster art from 95bfm.
More items will be added to the auction and if you aren't able to join us you'll be able to check out the offerings at gonebyxmas.tumblr.com and make an email bid.
You're also warmly invited to simply make a cash contribution by transferring some of your money to the ASB Bank account 12 3066 0361128 00.
(If you have something desirable you'd like to contribute to the auction, email me.)
And … there'll be a meat raffle.
Capacity is strictly limited, but you can secure entry by pre-purchasing a ticket here at Eventfinder. Get in.
Gone by Christmas: A fundraiser for journalist Jon Stephenson
6.30pm, Tuesday December 13
The Horse and Trap, 3 Enfield Street, Mt. Eden, Auckland
Tickets: $20 on the door or from Eventfinder.
About Jon Stephenson:
Jon is an Auckland-based journalist who has spent much of the past decade reporting from the scene of the "war on terror" in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has also reported on the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon, and from Gaza, East Timor, and Zimbabwe, as well as on natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami in Asia-Pacific region, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and the 2008 earthquake in China's Sichuan Province. His articles and commentary have appeared in the Sunday Star-Times and Metro magazine, and on 3 News, 60 Minutes, Media 7 and Radio New Zealand.