Before I do anything else, an acknowledgement: New Matilda is produced on Gadigal land. It always was Gadigal land, and it always will be. I also acknowledge our Elders, past and present, black and white.
And a few other acknowledgements: Marni Cordell is one of the reasons that New Matilda is still alive and kicking today. John Menadue, the original founder, is the other.
More than any others, Marni and John have been the great believers in independent media in Australia. I take over the helm of New Matilda from today, and hope that everything I do honours their contribution to a small but vibrant publication which has punched well above its weight for a decade.
I also have to acknowledge the people that keep New Matilda relevant today — Max Chalmers, Ben Eltham, Ian McAuley, Wendy Bacon, Ben Pobjie, Fiona Katauskas and Lindsay Foyle, the core of the outfit. And of course the multitude of writers who do it for the love.
You can add my partner, Angela Nicholson to the mix. Ange is a talented Sydney photographer and designer, and will be the face behind the scenes that keeps New Matilda ticking over. And you can add a host of new writers who will soon join the stable (more to come in the next few weeks and months on that front).
Briefly, I’ve worked in the media for a bit over two decades, having got my start as a copyboy at the Sydney Morning Herald, aged 15.
I’m best known for my reporting around Aboriginal affairs — I have a deep passion for First Nations issues, and a simple theory on life, and journalism: If you’re not living on the edge, then you’re wasting space. Change does not happen in the middle, it happens in the margins.
With that in mind, what I love about New Matilda is its genuine independence.
That won’t change and nor will the the publication's guiding ethics. NM has a long tradition of honesty, transparency and holding power to account. These are the things I value most in a publication, and in a journalist.
Some things, however, will change.
The front end of the website is due for an overhaul. Watch this space. The number of First Nations stories, naturally, will also increase. I also aim to put more emphasis on investigative-style journalism.
If you want more detail on my style of writing — and the issues that I value — you can find out more at my blog.
All that is just a flowery way of saying that the ‘new New Matilda’ will have the same old values, but with a renewed energy and enthusiasm.
The business model — people getting access to stories, whether they pay or not — is something I plan to keep, at least in the short-term. I don’t like paywalls because I believe New Matilda’s brand of journalism is public property. But I’m a realist when it comes to publishing, so the level of reader support will determine how long that model remains. I hope New Matilda’s editorial is enough to drag more paid subscribers, but at the very least, you’ll notice advertising content will increase.
My mantra on advertising is that while it should help sharpen the revenue, it should never blunt the editorial.
Before I sign off, I also want to acknowledge the people who got me here today, and influenced my career strongly. You all know who you are.
Finally, I feel very honoured to be leading the New Matilda team, and I look forward to getting to know the New Matilda junkies better in the coming months and years. There is a sense of community among New Matilda readers that I haven’t seen before in media… a community in which I hope to become a welcome member.
They say that when we get to the end of our lives, it’s not the things we did that we regret, but the things we didn’t do.
While I’m not 100 per cent sure that’s true (I’m thinking Andrew Bolt on his death bed here), I do know one thing I’ll never regret is taking the leap and joining the New Matilda family.
It’s been a quick transition — faster than I’d planned — and I don’t kid myself about the size of the challenge ahead. But the team already in place, and the one I plan to help continue building, fills me with confidence.
My most sincere hope is that you, the reader, won’t regret it either. I can promise you engaging, energetic, investigative journalism, and strong, informed, analysis. I hope you stick around to share the ride.