What Reading New Matilda Says About You


Psychologist and New Matilda columnist Dr Lissa Johnson has been a long-time supporter. She wrote this very nice article about you (and us)… and we agree with every word!

Forget your star sign. Or the tea leaves at the bottom of your cup. Your news and current affairs habits leave a tell-tale psychological trace, and an imprint on your destiny.

What clues does your New Matilda readership hold about you?


CLUE NUMBER 1: You read and enjoy New Matilda

If you look forward to fresh content on the New Matilda site, you probably possess low levels of what psychologists call system justification. System justification is the psychological need to see one’s social systems, institutions and practices as good, fair, right and just.

That’s not you.

Most people suffer from it to some degree. Many to a great degree, mainly because they want the world to be a good, fair, right and just place.

As do you.

The difference is that you can stomach your society’s deepest and most shameful flaws. Rather than striving to see the world as you want it to be, you are driven to see the world as it is, warts and all.

Why? Perhaps you have always questioned authority, stepping back from dominant paradigms to interrogate their validity.

Or perhaps you have found yourself outside the prevailing system during your life, suffering at its hands, whether through discrimination, oppression or twist of fate, giving you a critical distance and perspective on the status quo.

Whatever the reason, where others find the naked truth impossible to bear, you find it compelling. You feel validated by it. You find it liberating to cut through system-justifying bunk, helping you to understand the world as it is, and to put your understanding into words.


CLUE NUMBER 2: You appreciate the diversity of contributors on New Matilda

You like that you never know whose perspective you will read when you log on to the New Matilda site. You enjoy hearing from insiders and outsiders alike, with lived experience, knowledge and analysis, from positions of both advantage and disadvantage.

You appreciate reading the work of writers with different religious, cultural, social, racial, and gender vantage points. White men included. Angry white men at that. Angry, mostly, about the same things as you.

You appreciate that New Matilda is the only non-Aboriginal news organisation in Australia to make Aboriginal affairs a central focus. You realise how critically important this is in a country that so brutally marginalises, abuses, and ignores its First Peoples.

You enjoy the wide variety of writing styles on New Matilda as well. You like that there is no uniformity in tone. You appreciate that quality comes in all kinds of forms. You find it refreshing that New Matilda publishes so many media nobodies, like me, who wouldn’t get a look-in anywhere else.

Psychologically, you are almost certainly high on the personality trait openness to experience. You appreciate and value diversity, novelty, variety and difference. You like to extend yourself by exploring new ways of perceiving and experiencing the world.

You are also probably egalitarian. You likely eschew cultural elitism. You don’t read publications to sound clever or impress your friends. You simply want the truth.


CLUE NUMBER 3: You share New Matilda stories on social media, or otherwise seek to change the world

If you like posting New Matilda content on social media, you probably enjoy sharing your sense of illumination with others. You hope that by spreading information, more people will understand what you understand, creating a momentum for change.

Or you may take other steps in your life to make the world a better place. Signing petitions perhaps, donating, volunteering, campaigning, or just doing something good.

Your urge to help and empower others may reflect a psychological tendency towards collectivism, or a mindset in which you are interconnected with, and interdependent upon, others. You likely value others’ welfare along with your own, having resisted the worst trappings of individualism.

You realise that the biggest threats we all face – climate change, prejudice, war – require co-operation, collaboration and mobilisation, across social, racial, cultural and geographic boundaries.

You probably also possess high levels of what psychologists call identification with all humanity, or psychological sense of global community, the psychological antidotes to prejudice, human rights abuse and war. You feel an affinity with others across group boundaries, viewing people as human beings above all.


CLUE NUMBER 4: The system-justifying, atrocity-bolstering, PR functions of the mainstream media make you mad

If this is you, you not only possess low levels of system justification, you actively question the status quo, and the reality its opinion-shapers seek to create.

Your perceptions are not easily manipulated.

As a result, you understand what is at stake where the media is concerned.

You know that the new managing director of the ABC, for instance, is a former News Corp and Google executive. If you didn’t you’ll be disappointed, but not surprised, to find out.

The political pressures that have been brought to bear on journalists at the ABC and SBS in recent times disturbs you, as does the culture of docility and appeasement that this has spawned.

You probably also see through the prevailing media refrain that the Turnbull Government lacks an agenda. You grasp the agenda very clearly: the corporate takeover of everything.

You recognise the media narrative of a directionless Government for what it is. The device of framing something as nothing. Camouflage disguised as critique.

It is clear to you that in reality the Government increasingly serves to advance corporate interests rather than represent citizens. You may have heard it called Crony Capitalism. Or Political Capitalism perhaps. A kind of banksters-own mutation of neoliberalism.

You probably just call the whole thing what it is – a protection racket. Government running protection for corporate interests by eroding tax, sovereignty, land rights, human rights, workers’ rights, civil society, civil liberties, environmental protections, accountability and a watchdog press.

With government-funded media outlets neutered, you know that corporate-funded media takes care of itself.

You may have been following the sacking of journalist Michael West at Fairfax, for example. West had been writing investigative pieces at the Sydney Morning Herald focussed on the corporate world, particularly multinational tax avoidance. His work seemed increasingly out of place in the Fairfax milieu.

On his sacking West Tweeted, “Told my skill-set not aligned with Fairfax strategy going forward”. He added, “It’s quite clear that the strategy is a clickbait one”.

West described himself as “someone willing to have a go and try to tell the truth and stand up and tell truth to power, which is what, as journalists, we’re meant to do”.

On the problems with his ‘skill set’ he said, “Clearly managers are going to come under pressure when you go up against a big corporate entity, especially when that entity is an advertiser. There’s going to be pressure, but in the old days, when I was an editor, we’d stand up against that pressure and say ‘if they go, I go.’” He noted that the Fairfax approach was “very sad for the public interest”.

West has been forced to venture out on his own where truth-to-power journalism resides; independent, self-funded, and reader-funded media.

This and every other act of elite/media complicity makes you mad. You cheer New Matilda every time it calls these things out.

Psychologically, you are not easily bamboozled by distraction and detail. You are capable of stepping back, connecting the dots and viewing the bigger picture.

You know that the mainstream media is not an observer of the corporate-political system. You see that it is an active player.


CLUE NUMBER 5: You subscribe or donate to New Matilda

You are one of those stellar individuals whose values and behaviour align. This is surprisingly rare. Attitudes typically only show a 10-15 per cent correlation with behaviour.

You, on the other hand, translate your media ideals into action. Why? Because you are a phenomenal human being.

You also probably realise that the only antidote to docile, system-justifying, corporate and government funded media is a reader-funded alternative. For the public interest to be served, the public needs to be the paymaster.

In addition to acting on your ideals, you are bucking the societal trend towards increasing narcissism and declining empathy. You have spared a thought for the interests of the journalists who toil to produce the content that you enjoy.

You realise that they are human beings too. You know that they deserve to be paid. You care about their welfare.

You may even have considered the fact that telling the unvarnished truth, particularly about their own profession, can come at a cost to journalists. You understand that New Matilda writers write for you, not to advance their own careers or impress their peers.

You are grateful.


CLUE NUMBER 6: You read and enjoy New Matilda but you don’t donate or subscribe

Perhaps you can’t afford to subscribe. New Matilda understands this, and wants you to keep reading, which is why no pay wall locks readers out.

Or perhaps you have been meaning to chip in, but haven’t gotten around to it. You just missed the latest Pozible campaign. Damn.

Here’s your chance.

You might not have realised that you can subscribe for as little as $1.35 a week. You probably don’t know what a difference your $1.35 would make. It seems so little. It’s hard to believe that it matters.

But it does.

You may not recognise how badly New Matilda needs your help.

You may not have heard that Chris Graham, the editor, works night and day, relentlessly, for free. No wage. At all. Since taking the helm.

You may not realise that he put his house on the market this year to keep New Matilda afloat.

You possibly aren’t aware that his business partner, Ange, is equally overworked, paid but underpaid, and that without her New Matilda would grind to a screeching halt.

They do it for the love of independent journalism.

If you knew all this, you would have subscribed much earlier.

Or perhaps something else is holding you back. Perhaps you suffer from self-sabotaging tendencies that prevent you from chipping in.

You may unconsciously seek to punish yourself by starving independent media of funds, sealing your fate in an arid corporate media landscape, where no egalitarian, reader-funded media can survive. Perhaps you don’t believe, deep down, that you deserve the richness, the colour, the variety and the courage that New Matilda brings.

Instead you consign yourself to a nagging state of guilt every time you browse the New Matilda site. You deprive yourself of the sense of pride that comes from knowing you helped to make independent media possible, and that you are part of the solution.

Stop punishing yourself. You deserve better.

You can set yourself free.



Dr Lissa Johnson is a clinical psychologist and practice principal in private practice. Prior to becoming a psychologist she qualified in Media Studies, with a major in Sociology. Lissa has a longstanding interest in the psychology of social issues and the impact of social issues on psychology, and is a former member of the Australian Psychological Society Public Interest Advisory Group.