typing is not activism….

environ mentalism, fresh articles, interviews & checkitouts from Sydney.

Great newly free Aussie media

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Just a quick note to say that New Matilda, a young but plucky independent outlet of commentary and analysis, has just made a fairly major policy revision. From now on, all content will be freely accessible. They are shifting to an advertising-sponsored rather than a subscriber-funded model. This, they say, reflects the global trend for online publications.

It’s a bit of a funny thing, independent media. What is, or is not, independent? For example, if a zine runs paid advertising, perhaps even for horrific products – like shampoo, phone sex, and the government – but seems to clearly have an editorial policy where anything goes and nothing is sacred… technically it would be regarded by many as far less independent than a privately owned publication with no advertising and a very clear editorial ideology of the ultra-anally left-wing comrade-cockspank variety.

So what’s the measure of independence? Is there some kind of rule or measure? For example, I write for a paper which I used to think of as independent but now think of as a pit of fecal disrepute. In part, this is hormonal, but it is also because the publisher – as far as I can tell – now sees the ads as content and the content as filler. Although we can and do cover all manner of topics and have quite a free rein in what we say, the fact that news and features now make up less than 12% of the paper and paid ads make up anywhere from 50 – 85% is… well…. utterly debilitating… very dispiriting… as fucked as Paris Hilton in a camera store.

In Australia, the pluralist media model – one similar to the soapbox in the park where the revolutionary, captain of industry, and drooling scabbed loony (a la Miranda Devine) all get their turn – is disappearing up its own arse with a flashlight in search of buried treasure. See any Fairfax paper for proof of this objective observation. Meanwhile, News Limited – the most appropriately named media outlet in the entire history of the world. ever. – is behaving like a Gremlin in a swimming pool, spawning filthy, drooling, rabid green sheets of Glenn Milne’s bog roll all over the place with Melbourne’s Herald-Sun being the latest fanged and slimey shit-wrap to show up on the network news “someone-we-trust-says” radar.

Personally, I’m a big fan of zines that stay out of the writers’ way, don’t give money to douchebags like Gerard Henderson, and get their ad revenue from ethical companies. But it’s also a pipe dream. Invariably such publications run really pretentious ads for the latest opera and leave you feeling like the editors must be wankers. So the bottom line really seems to be financial survival without compromising content.

One thing is certain about “independent” media – whatever it looks like, there’s a hell of a lot more in Australia now than there was a few years ago. Whether it’s risen in response to the absolute betrayal of the public by previously credible media sources, or in a Newtonian response to the nastiest little Australian dictator ever to fart between publicly funded sheets, I don’t know.

But I do know that it’s a bloody lucky thing that we have a bunch of reliable media-louts like Tasmanian Times, New Matilda, Black Inc. Books, The Monthly, The Chaser, Shaun Micallef, National Indigenous Times, Crikey!, homepagedaily, and others. . . because however the election turns out – and I’m hoping to Hell that Hotwad gets his tackle smashed – we’re going to need them.

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Written by typingisnotactivism

November 9, 2007 at 12:56 am

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