Welcome back to New Matilda! We told you we were on our way back and this week we’re publishing our first stories under the new ownership.
Thanks for all of your enthusiasm, encouragement and offers of assistance over the past fortnight — and also for your patience as we finalised the transfer of the business from the previous owner. It’s been fantastic to get such a positive response after a three-month break, and we can’t wait to get started.
But first, there are a few things to explain about the new venture. For starters, who are "we"?
There are no big secrets, new players or shadowy investors involved in the new NM — in fact, just (a couple fewer) familiar faces. I have bought the business and am working with Catriona Menzies-Pike, another member of NM’s core team, to relaunch the site.
For now, we are working on a bare-bones budget from a pokey office above a pub in Sydney. We are taking a gamble and will be relying on your support to make it happen.
So how will it work?
Details of our fundraising campaign — which will be sponsored by the Sydney-based start-up Fund Break, an Australian version of the US crowd-funding site Kickstarter — will be announced on the site on Tuesday. We’ll be offering options for everyone from students to those who can afford to dig deep — and a gift subscription that you can send to friends and family in time for Christmas.
The campaign will be an all or nothing fundraiser — that is, we will only process payments if and when we reach our target amount. That target is based on a basic budget for the year ahead and is the absolute minimum from which we’re prepared to make the leap into the great unknown of independent online publishing in 2011.
If we don’t make the target, you’ll have enjoyed a few extra months of independent journalism on the New Matilda site at no cost to you.
If we exceed it — and we’re certainly hoping that we do — we have a shopping list of improvements and changes that we will start rolling out. These include a beautiful site redesign that never saw the light of day; some exciting new data analysis and visualisation projects; and more investigative journalism.
To whet your appetites, and remind you why we’re a valuable part of the Australian media, we will be publishing daily until the Christmas break.
Since we announced our relaunch as a user-pays site, a number of people have asked if we will be paywalling content. The answer, at least in the short term, is no.
We’ve made this decision because we want our stories to have a life beyond our corner of the internet and, more importantly, because we can’t afford to limit our audience to people who already know they like us. We have a strong following of loyal readers but we need to grow — now is the time to tell your friends why you think NM is required reading.
So while we’ll be asking you to become financial supporters, our business model will in fact have more in common with a public radio station than a subscription-based website. Right now, we’ll ask you to pay because you value our continued existence, not because you are buying content from us. This may change as our business grows and we can afford to give our supporters more privileged access, but until then we’ll be passing on as many free tickets, books and other giveaways as we can.
And we’ll also be getting serious about our role as an independent voice in the Australian media.
Many of you have told us you are frustrated with the media’s pack mentality and the tired format of "campaign bus" political journalism. And you’ve said that you want to read and watch stories that are smart and engaging.
Over the coming months we’ll be expanding our remit to include more investigative journalism — and we’ll also be picking up the stories that fall through the cracks in the other media’s rush to publish the daily shenanigans in Canberra first.
But we’ll also be bringing you plenty of the kind of smart analysis that you’ve come to expect from us. Get set to get reacquainted with some old favourites and to discover some new ones.
So readers, if you think New Matilda is an important part of the Australian media, get behind us. Put your money where your mouse is! Tell your friends, families and workmates to do the same. It’s a great big experiment but it’s an exciting one: can we make New Matilda live again?
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