NM's Christmas Bonus

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Cars are sprouting antlers and city bars are filling up with tinsel. The festive season is upon us! New Matilda will cease publication for 2011 on Friday 16 December. We’ll go to a few parties — and we’ll be back in mid January.

It’s been a huge year at New Matilda and we’ve got a lot to celebrate.

We’ve published more stories this year than ever before, we’ve broken big news stories, and we’ve attracted many new readers.

We published the first publicly available version of the 2009 Department of Immigration and Citizenship contract with British multinational Serco and we’ve led the media pack with our coverage of regional affairs.

Our stories on the ongoing Freeport strike and the violence following the Third Papuan Congress have put the issue of West Papua firmly on the radar of the bigger outlets. We also published the very first interview with West Papuan President-elect Forkorus Yaboisembut following his imprisonment — the Sydney Morning Herald followed suit two days later. We are confident West Papua will be an issue to watch in 2012, and we hope to keep leading the way with informed and breaking coverage.

Our stories on the contract between Serco and the Department of Immigration shocked many readers in their revelations about the unaccountable, inhumane administration of immigration detention. This story was picked up widely by the other media, too — although not everyone gave us credit for breaking it.

And this month, we published an article co-authored by 26 academics from the University of Sydney about the proposed forced redundancies at Australia’s oldest university. This was an extraordinary public statement from a profession known for reticence — and it was widely circulated immediately on publication.

As a small outlet we can’t cover everything — but the uptake of these stories is an indication of the kind of impact independent media can have with very little resources. We’ve scored big hits too for our coverage of the media, Indigenous affairs and technology — and we’ve backed it up with daily news and analysis.

All this has taken place against a background of intense scrutiny of the media. The phone-hacking scandal in the UK brought the methods of Big Media into question. This was shocking — but the conversation about the transformation of the media landscape involves much more than phone-hacking. It goes to the very viability of media outlets — and the central question of how to maintain a culture of independent investigative journalism.

We’ve published stories which contribute to this conversation, such as Bill Birnbauer’s argument for tax breaks for independent media outlets. As a small independent online outlet struggling to stay afloat, we’re also right in the thick of it. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the media inquiry and its recommendations.

When we turned to readers in late 2010 to ask for financial support, the online media space had gotten a little crowded. Our readers could choose to check in on stalwart online publications like Crikey and Online Opinion — and read work on The Drum, The Punch. In 2012, there will be even more to read online. We’ll watch the debut of the Global Mail with great interest, as well as the Australian arm of the Huffington Post.

All round, it’s been a big year. We went into 2011 with a very tight budget and we’ve managed to do a lot with it. Our financial situation is far from secure. For NM to be a sustainable fixture in the Australian media, we still need many more readers to sign up and become financial supporters. We’d like to spend less time thinking about how to pay the bills and more time producing high quality journalism.

If you want to back us in 2012, become a New Matilda supporter now. It costs as little as $4.30 a month and you’ll be in the running for monthly giveaways.

Enjoy our last week of publishing for 2011.

Marni and Catri

New Matilda

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.

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