Curtains For


Dear readers,

It’s with heavy hearts that we announce the end of the site will cease publishing on Friday, 25 June.

What’s brought us to this? The short answer is: we’ve run out of money.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that has never operated on a profit. However, we had projected that the site would break even by 2010.

We’ve now come to realise we were being too optimistic and that we’re unable to continue publishing into the next financial year. This is in large part due to the sheer difficulty of selling online advertising in the current media environment.

When was bought by its current owner Duncan Turpie in February 2007 the site was operating at a significant financial loss. That year we made the decision — perhaps too hastily in hindsight — to drop subscriptions in an effort to boost our readership and to increase our revenue from advertising.

We’ve certainly achieved the first of those aims: each year for the past three years our hits have more than doubled. There’s a steady and growing cohort of readers who return daily to for news and analysis.

However, the advertising simply hasn’t followed. Moreover, as the site has increased in popularity, so have our running costs — and with them the knowledge that we are unable to subsidise the project indefinitely. The big media players are struggling to find a workable online business model that allows them to pay their writers and maintain high standards — and so are we. Since we already run a very lean operation, cutting costs is not an option and we are taking the only path available to us at this time.

We know this decision will disappoint the many people who have supported us over the years — those who bought subscriptions and made donations in our early years, and of course, our loyal readers and writers now. And while we feel as though we’ve exhausted every possibility that we can think of, we are open to discussing our situation with anyone who seriously thinks they may be in a position to help. Please get in touch if you are one of those people!

Ironically, it’s at the time of‘s greatest success that we are making this sad announcement.

From small beginnings in 2004 the site has grown to become one of the country’s most popular online outlets and respected sources of independent political analysis. In recent years in particular, our readership has been on a steady and impressive increase and we’ve fostered some fantastic new local talent — our current national affairs correspondent, Ben Eltham, and resident satirist, Ben Pobjie, among them. Since we launched more than 1100 writers have contributed to the site.

Australia has a great tradition of independent media, many of which have had limited life spans. (In fact, at almost six years of age, we’re practically a veteran.) After their closing, those outlets haven’t been judged by how long they lasted or whether they could turn a profit; instead they have been judged by their impact — on the Australian media and its operations, and on the tone and parameters of the public conversation.

It’s always been the role of independent media to tackle issues and opinions that the other media deemed too controversial for — or merely uninteresting to — a mainstream audience. In doing so, they have ultimately shifted the boundaries of acceptable debate. Tom Fitzgerald, the founding editor of Nation, likened this process to opening windows in a stuffy room.

In our six years of publishing, we’d like to think has also let some fresh air in on the Australian political debate. We’ve challenged accepted wisdom on what can and can’t be published and in doing that we’ve opened a space for the other media to do so. Our independence is something we’ve taken very seriously: we’ve never been affiliated with a political party or lobby group and we’ve embraced a diversity of opinion. While we’ve never been big enough to cover the whole spectrum of current affairs and news, we’ve exerted ourselves to identify gaps in the public discussion and to fill them. We thank our intelligent, irreverent and courageous writers for their efforts.

The online media environment we’re leaving is vastly different to the one in which we started. Since we launched, several mainstream opinion and analysis sites have joined us, including The Drum, Unleashed, The Punch and the National Times. Although we hope that the newspaper presses keep on clattering for decades to come, it’s clear that the role of online media outlets will only grow in the future — whatever business model they follow.

So folks, enjoy it while it lasts. Between now and 25 June, tell us what you loved, what you hated and what you’ll miss.

During our last month of publishing we’ll be entertaining the ghosts of independent media past with interviews and new articles by some of the key players in the sector over the years. We’ll also be giving over our 20 Questions segment to those who have had a stake in the website — readers, contributors, fans, detractors, former staff and others.

There will no doubt be a few tears in this office on 25 June, but until then we invite you to share this last month with us.

Marni Cordell

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who’s commented here and called, emailed or messaged us today — we’ve been overwhelmed by your support. It’s bittersweet to hear all of this great feedback of our work on the day we announce our closure. To those who have offered to take out subscriptions, make donations, or otherwise assist to keep us afloat: we need to take some time to consider our situation. We will respond to your suggestions in more detail next week. What is clear right now is that to change our business model and to survive, we will need an immediate and significant cash injection. Such things are difficult to come by, especially in these economic times. However, we don’t believe it’s entirely out of the question — so keep forwarding us those leads! Thanks again for all the love.

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.