News Matilda: End of an Era for Independent News


It is with intense sadness and not a little anger that I confirm reports that, on Monday, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited will announce the shock purchase of New Matilda for an as-yet undisclosed amount, rumoured to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

New Matilda‘s staff and I are outraged. We will be resigning en masse before we are sacked. And as a final act of defiance, we have decided to send out one last ‘proper’ edition of our beloved ground-breaking weekly, before it is engulfed, nobbled and homogenised.

Although it is unclear whether the name of our feisty but fair magazine/policy portal will be retained (or be re-launched as News Matilda), the sale brings to an end 19 months of independent commentary, analysis and policy debate.

The Board of New Matilda has so far resisted the temptation to make an official statement, but strong rumours within the media industry suggest that they received an offer they ‘could not refuse’.

John Menadue, as Chair of the New Matilda Board, launched the website in August 2004 in an effort to promote truth in government and create workable policy alternatives. ‘Rupert and I go back a long way,’ Menadue said, ‘and in the end, with Eddie Maguire also sniffing around, it became a matter of the devil you know.’

Speculation was rife in Kippax Street (home of both News and New Matilda) that this latest digital acquisition might be used by the News Corp Board as bait to lure the estranged scion of the Murdoch clan, Lachlan, back into the fold.

Nick Carney, who was the Policy Supremo of New Matilda, is incensed at what he believes is a massive dereliction of duty. ‘I don’t want to make over-the-top allegations, here’, said Carney, ‘but am I the only one who smells CIA involvement? Just ask yourself, who is it that’s going to lose out if we finally got a Bill of Rights in this crazy burg? I don’t think you have to be Einstein to join the dots on this can of worms’, said Carney.

Rod McGuinness, erstwhile General Manager of the online newsmonger, was equally livid. ‘In a very short period of time, New Matilda managed to blur the edges between tabloid, broadsheet and chequebook journalism in a very creative yet wholesome way,’ said McGuinness, through gritted teeth. ‘I feel traduced. I feel dirty. I feel done over. But most of all I feel very, very sad’, he said.

‘I saw it coming a mile off’, said Senator Helen Coonan.


And what of you, our readers?, I ask myself. Does anyone give a damn about you, our happy band of brothers and sisters, who have loyally logged-on and click-click-clicked, week in, week out? You, who have shared in our glories and our vicissitudes, where will you go now for your hot dose of hard-hitting, unspun, gloriously-subedited news? The Daily Bugle? The Koowee-rup Mercury? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

In a heartless display of tokenism, News is apparently negotiating with Kitchen King to allow New Matilda subscribers to cash out their subscriptions for a set of steak knives.

Good night, and goodbye.

José Borghino

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.