This is New Matilda’s last issue for 2004. We’ve made a selection of over forty articles from more than two hundred in our archives which we’ve published over our first four months.
The range is remarkable “ or perhaps it isn’t given the lack of media diversity which has been a growing problem in Australia where spin, sermonising and predictable opinion have been triumphing over the kind of debate on social and political issues and policy that we badly need right now.
New Matilda began two months before the Australian elections with a brief to generate topical analysis and debate and to provide a site where people could speak out about the kind of Australia they want. Over the past four months we’ve published eighteen issues of essential reading. We’ve discovered dozens of fine new writers engaged with international and local politics and social issues.
We’ve also persuaded some well known writers, activists and experts to write for us, such as Graham Freudenberg, Arnold Zable, Moira Rayner, Judith Brett, Tony Clifton, Leslie Canold, Spencer Zifcak, Meg Gurry, Julian Burnside, Don Watson, Thornton McCamish and Barry Jones. Many of these pieces have been subsequently published in the mainstream press.
Choosing what to include in this issue was very difficult. In the end the selection was based on the need to reflect the issues and events of the last few months of 2004. The selection is grouped for browsing as: In the world, War, Australian elections, US elections, The state of the nation, Asylum seekers, Styles of living, Consumption, Media, Community building.
About half the writing published in New Matilda each week is commissioned from well known and new writers. The rest is unsolicited and we choose the best. At the foot of most articles are readers’ comments. These are unmediated and make the task of writing for New Matilda very different from writing for other media. Readers’ comments are a crucial part of the process of extending debate – plus giving us and our writers instant feedback.
Writing and publishing online each week is a bit like throwing a bottle with a message in it into the sea. Silence fell the week following the Australian election. No readers’ comments, very few contributions or phone calls. It was also the week we had chosen to become subscriber based “ the wrong time almost certainly. Then a deluge began of contributions, suggestions, readers’ comments “ from people reading us all over the country and overseas. The enthusiasm for New Matilda and what subscribers told us about the need for it kept us at it.
In a very short time New Matilda has made a considerable space for itself in the public debate. We hope that this unlocked special issue in all its variety gives a sense of that space “ and of many of the events and concerns of the last months of 2004.
We thank all of you who have supported New Matilda in our first few months: subscribers, donors, writers, readers. We welcome those of you who are reading these articles for the first time and hope you’ll subscribe for 2005.
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