The new face of independent Australian journalism

“Independent media can go to where the silence is and break the sound barrier”

Amy Goodman

Independent journalism has never been more important in the Australian media landscape.

With an increase in corporate interests in the mainstream media, and a steady decline in profits amongst traditional mediums, independent and thorough investigative journalism has never been as necessary.

A week ago the Guardian broke the story of how Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s daughter, Frances Abbott, was granted a slightly dodgy scholarship at the Whitehouse Institute.

The vast majority of the follow-up, scrutiny and persistent investigation did not come from any mainstream source in Australia however. It came from a site once described as an “experiment in how cheaply a news outlet can be run”, an underdog in Australian journalism: New Matilda.

New Matilda’s coverage of this story has illustrated just how important independent journalism is. In the past week, virtually the entire site has been devoted to the Whitehouse story, something that more mainstream sources cannot afford to do.

New Matilda is a brave, stubborn journalistic organisation, one that demands answers and won’t stop until it receives them.

Since the story broke, they’ve posted numerous exclusive stories investigating this situation extremely closely, including testimonies from insiders, leaked documents, and the revelation that Francis Abbott was chosen “on merit” to help lobby federal government regulators.

All of these stories were exclusive to New Matilda, and hardly covered at all by mainstream sources, even the Guardian.

It is crucial, long-form investigative journalism, something sorely lacking from the Australian media world.

We’re lucky that New Matilda is even still around, with Chris Graham coming to the rescue after former editor Marni Cordell announced the site would be closing down as it couldn’t compete financially with larger organisations.

New Matilda’s recent performance proves why it was so important that it survived. This sort of scrutiny and demand for accountability is what defines good, influential journalism, and in many ways, these stories could only be covered by independent organisations. There are many other independent sources in Australia too, with the likes of Crikey, the Conversation, and the Stringer.

New Matilda describes itself as “independent journalism at its best”, and after the last week it’s almost impossible to argue with this.

(Photo: New Matilda)

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6 thoughts on “The new face of independent Australian journalism

  1. benitakolovos

    Geoffrey Edelsten’s new girlfriend is apparently more newsworthy to the Herald Sun than a story such as Frances Abbott’s scholarship (which is a little to fishy for my liking). Gabi Grecko, or Brynne 2.0, got two, two page spreads- including a photo shoot, whilst they completely overlooked a bit of government corruption. With trivialisation/sensationalistic news and PR stories gaining more and more prominence in Australian papers, and media ownership dominating whether a story is newsworthy or not, we need more sites like New Matilda. The scales need to be tipped back into balance by stories that investigate the ‘democratic’ character of Australian political parties.

    Reply
  2. Emily Malone

    Another excellent post, Denham. I for one am glad that New Matilda is sticking around.
    I thought the quote you opened with by Amy Goodman is incredibly interesting – the idea that ‘silent’ areas still exist amidst our media saturated world. Independent journalism (particularly independent investigative journalism) holds such an important place for showing us what we can’t know or what we’ve failed to know. I think in the case of Francis Abbott, there was a really intriguing power dynamic to be seen between the mainstream media and the independent journalists at New Matilda (as you pointed out). Do you think that the media giants are almost ‘outsourcing’ the investigative work to these independents, by waiting for them to do the “dirt digging” before spreading it to their wider audiences?

    Reply
  3. matildaedwards

    I think this lines up really well with your post from last week on Buzzfeed. I love that you’re highlighting the best independent media sources available to us, because not only are these the future of journalism for consumers, they’re likely the kinds of places that might employ us down the track.
    Probably even more so than with Buzzfeed, New Matilda is a no-nonsense site that is home to some of the most intense and impressive investigative journalism. Should all the doomsayers’ words come true and Fairfax goes down the drain, I’m putting this brilliant organisation as the top pick for journalists like Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie – it’s up there with the big guns.

    Not-so-new Matilda x

    Reply
  4. likelukjanowbutnot

    While I wholeheartedly agree with your support of independent journalism, and of New Matilda (which really does have something excellent to add to the media landscape in this country), I feel that the particular example you use does no necessary place it in the most newsworthy light. I feel that this situation with Francis Abbott is somewhat of a non-issue, and that the media attention it had received has attempted to make it a bigger issue then it truly is.
    I would like to see New Matilda try this style of reporting on something that is worth the public’s time, like the corruption seen in Sydney or on a Federal level- that way the organisation could use it’s freedoms and position to make some serious changes in the flow of news in this country.

    Reply
  5. Emerald Cowell

    Great post Denham. I whole-heartedly agree that independent journalism is needed in our current media landscape. Espcecially with News Corp newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph showing more and more ‘biased’ opinions in favour of the Liberal government. I think the way the truly investigated the Francis Abbott scholarship was really great – I think that a lot of people only heard that she was given the “60,000 dollar scholarship” and based the opinion around that. But for people to really have an argument they need evidence. So it was great to see where they were coming from. In terms of what Jess said above about the scholarship being a ‘non-issue’ and that you could have focused on a bigger issue.. I can totally see where she is coming from. News media at the moment seems to only be filled with either entertainment or the Prime Minister’s latest antics like winking at phone sex workers, or like you said the scholarship for his daughter. I understand the need for more relevant topics like the current Federal Budget and discussing how it is actually going to affect us not just how much we hate Abbott. But I think that you were not wrong to discuss the topic of the scholarship because it is a relevant news topic (whether we want it to be or not) that needs to be addressed with truth. Great story!

    Reply
  6. Pingback: The New Face Of Independent Australia Journalism | Denham Sadler

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