If you would like to find out what it is like to live with chronic fatigue syndrome (and support a little experiment in community-funded journalism), please have a look at this story pitch on YouCommNews.
YouCommNews is a non-profit, people-powered news site run as part of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation (PIJ Foundation) based at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. (Declaration: I’m secretary of the PIJ Foundation).
Journalist Toula Mantis plans to do a series of 10 personal stories about the experiences of people with CFS. “This series gives a voice to those haunted by a chronic disease that medical professionals are at a loss to explain and have no answers for a cure,” she says.
So far, 15 people have donated a total of $708 towards the first story in the series, which will be about Katherine McIntosh who lives between a tent and a caravan in country Victoria. Mantis needs to raise only another $170 to be able to kick off her series. (More on her bio is at the bottom of this post).
Meanwhile, YouCommNews has attracted some interesting pitches for stories related to Indigenous health that are looking for journalists.
We hear plenty about the reduced life expectancy and poor health of Indigenous Australians. We don’t hear enough about those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who lead long and healthy lives. What can we learn from the stories of Indigenous people who have “defied the odds” to reach a healthy, old age?
The prevalence of cancer among the Indigenous population is largely overlooked in the policies and strategies to improve Indigenous health. This article would investigate why cancer is so neglected in Indigenous health policies, and would also investigate the solutions. How can the health system be made more responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer?
Both of these stories have been pitched by Daniel Vujcich, a graduate of the University of Western Australia, who is currently on a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he has completed a Master’s degree in International Development, and now reads for a doctorate in Public Health. His research relates to the way in which Indigenous Australian health policies are formulated.
If you are a journalist and are interested in taking on either of these stories (whether as print, broadcast or multimedia stories), please contact the PIJ Foundation’s project officer, Tara Peck: TPECKATgroupwise.swin.edu.au
Some details about Toula Mantis
I have worked as a journalist since the late 1980s specialising in science, information technologies and telecommunications. By 1994, I was privileged to be the media manager for the Australian Telecommunications User’s Group and responsible for the public launch of the Internet in Australia. Shortly afterwards, I was fortunate to be the value added services product manager for Vodafone Australia where I was responsible for the management of the development and launch of the world’s first GSM mobile Internet service. These two events catapulted my career until I returned from a business trip to the Philippines. My health began to deteriorate and I found myself fighting for my life. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
From this experience, I became acquainted with the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Society of Australia (Victoria) and its many members and have been astounded at the stories they had to tell – stories that resembled those from underprivileged third world countries rather than those associated with our lucky country, Australia.
Further, as a CFS sufferer, I was able to experience the medical health system and the medical legal system first hand. It left me aghast.
In 2007, I was privileged to make a request for a CFS specialist medical and recovery centre on behalf of sufferers to the Victorian Health Minister, Daniel Andrews. Several months later, it resulted in a house being given to one of the sufferers due to their appalling individual circumstances. The request for the centre remains.