Sorry We’ve Been Quiet… We Had A Good Reason!



This editorial went out in this morning’s regular email digest. You can receive it, free-of-charge, by clicking on the green link directly above.

Apologies for the delay in email digests. This story is the reason why. When New Matilda breaks a major yarn, like our long-running investigation into Bettina Arndt AM, we don’t have anything like the resources to deal with the tsunami of sh*t that follows.

To put not too fine a point on it, it’s been quite a week. Well two weeks, actually.

Happily, the website hasn’t crashed despite a huge influx of traffic. Unhappily, the email plugin that serves your regular digest failed, and it’s taken us a while to get to fixing it.

On that front, I’ve apparently never been particularly good at asking for money, at least, I’ve never been very effective at it, notwithstanding the fact I do it in virtually every email digest. So I’ll just be more blunt in this one.

As it stands, just under 2 per cent of the 27,415 people who receive this email digest contribute financially. Put another way, of the 80,000 people who have so far read the Bettina Arndt investigation (and that number is still growing), about 0.6 per cent have paid something.

If one third of our regular email digest readership subscribed, we’d have enough resources to break stories like this regularly. Even if just 10 per cent did, I could quit my other jobs and focus on New Matilda exclusively.

We’d also have enough resources to pay our writers. We began the Arndt investigation 18 months ago. Nina Funnell, my co-author, has not received a cent for her work. I’m deeply uncomfortable with that, and I’m hopeful more New Matilda readers will be as well. Nina and I both work other jobs to pay the bills, and Nina is already back on the road, spending her weekend interviewing sexual assault survivors for a new series.

And no, we don’t pursue paid advertising because it pollutes our reporting. Instead, we give it away to ethical small businesses, Aboriginal organisations, and worthwhile charities.

So we need your help. If you haven’t already subscribed, helping to better resource New Matilda will make investigations like the one below quicker, and much more common. It will also resource us to better hold the media to account after we break a major story – unsurprisingly, they are completely misreporting this story, and have simply provided a platform for Ms Arndt to further lie and obfuscate. 

Those lies, and the media’s participation in them, will be the subject of our next tranche of stories in this investigation. We hope to have some of them out this evening, and more in the next few days. Please consider contributing if you’re able, to better resource us to get those stories and more out. It costs as little as $6 a month.

In the interim, I’ve added another recent major investigation to this email digest as well, partly because you may have missed it (we’ve had a huge influx of free subscribers in the past week), but also to show you what we’re capable of. We broke that story last year after a three month investigation, and it was ignored by the same mainstream media that are now (rightly) pursuing sports minister Bridget McKenzie for rorting the grants system in the lead-up to the election.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, declaring victory at the 2019 federal election.

If you want the brief explanation, 24-hours before the federal election (i.e. during the caretaker period) the Morrison government gave one of their biggest political donors (Wesfarmers) $15 million, from a bucket of money set aside to alleviate Aboriginal disadvantage. Since then, the audit office has found the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, five years after its creation, still has no way to summate whether or not the billions in your tax dollars are being spent effectively.

In other words, grand scale corruption. Apart from media, Labor also ignored the story, and refused to comment. That’s obviously because they do the same thing when the opportunity presents (Wesfarmers is also one of their bigger political donors).

Regular followers of New Matilda might remember that I nearly closed the site last year after that story. The deafening silence around that investigation was a part of the reason why. We’ve thrashed away at ‘the New Matilda project’ for years now, we keep breaking big stories, and I keep going further and further into debt to keep the site alive. It can be pretty deflating.

You can help change that by clicking here and subscribing, or making a one-off contribution via Paypal here. And of course, my sincere thanks to those who already have – your investment in this sort of independent journalism played no small part in exposing Bettina Arndt AM, and Scott Morrison’s freebie to his mates at Wesfarmers.

Finally, we’re also looking for a pro bono internet security expert. Our site is secure, but recent attempts this week to hack our email system has left me a little, well, rattled. If you have expertise in security, or you know someone who does and might be able to help out, you can reply to this email – it comes straight to my inbox.

Back to you with the next digest and series of stories as soon as humanly possible. And I promise the next editorial will be a little more upbeat, less blunt. Maybe.

Chris Graham

PS. I get asked all the time how New Matilda can publish investigations like the ones above, without being sued off the face of the planet. The answer is having a talented team of legal professionals behind us. Our sincere thanks to Michael, Hannah, Daisy and the crew at Marque Lawyers, who invest an enormous amount of time, energy and resources, with no expectation of anything in return except the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped shine a light in dark places. Helping keep Nina and I, and others, out of jail has been a bonus. So far. If you’re looking for a law firm whose talent is matched only by its ethics, please give Marque a crack. They’re the best at what they do, by a considerable margin.
You can contact Marque Lawyers by clicking this link.
Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.