On Wednesday 25 August 2004, New Matilda took a deep breath and dived into cyberspace. This week’s issue of New Matilda marks our second anniversary.
In a relatively short time, New Matilda has established itself in the Australian mediascape. We now publish a weekly Magazine on Wednesdays and a Policy edition on Fridays. New Matilda has over 4700 international subscribers and our web traffic continues to grow. We have broken news — Jeff Kennett’s toying with political resurrection and Mari Alkatiri’s first interview during the recent East Timor crisis, for example — and we are the only Australian outlet to regularly carry Robert Fisk’s articles.
In a media landscape where spin is normal and the usual suspects are trotted out ad nauseam, where clichés and banalities are routinely presented as commentary, New Matilda remains open to both fresh and well-known writers presenting points of view that are rarely heard in the mainstream. We remain fiercely independent, free to criticise and question orthodoxies wherever they exist, and dedicated to progressing issues beyond the dead-ends and stand-offs of what currently passes for political debate.
Eighteen articles graced issue 1. The authors were editor Natasha Cica, plus Richard Bourke, Tom Mann, George Megalogenis, Greg Barns, Julian Ninio, Anne Henderson, Anne McGregor, Mike Hanley and Adrian Monck, Maria Kunda, Kate Horrocks, Trackie Dax, Margo Kingston, Dawn Service, Christine Wallace, Olga Haven, John Menadue, and Richard Harris.
Natasha Cica’s editorial announced, ‘In this issue, a range of voices, new and old, come together to look at the state of Australian fair play. They tell some hard truths, but they also point to some better times ahead.’
I ventured back to those pieces, to see how far we’d progressed since August 2004. New Matilda‘s first contents list included a couple of pieces that were purely of their time: commentaries on the Athens Olympics and the impending stoush between Howard and Latham (remember him?). But it’s instructive to see the number of articles devoted to issues that have not dated and in some cases have become even hotter: there were stories about Guantanamo Bay, the detention of asylum seekers, multiculturalism, the ALP’s desperate search for leadership, the Australian diaspora, Australian values, the perils of nationalism and consumerism, Howard’s enforcing of rigid discipline within the Liberal Party, a profile of Labor’s Deputy Leader Jenny Macklin, the crisis in Indigenous health services, the growing disaffection with mainstream politics, and the increasing timidity of the ABC.
Photograph by anonymous Canberra public
It may seem that little has changed in two years. But at least Howard’s triumphalism is now tainted by the triple whammy of increasing oil prices, interest rate rises, and the open revolt within the Coalition on ethical issues like asylum seeker policy and stem cell research. If Beazley can keep from bumbling long enough, he stands some chance of victory next year (although, for many, this is not simply a matter for un-alloyed rejoicing; it’s just the lesser of two disappointments).
As we gear up for another Federal election in 2007, it is clear that much remains to be done both in criticising current policies and encouraging all sides to develop a vision beyond the next ballot.
With your continued backing, New Matilda will go on bringing you voices of reason and force for change.