Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Matilda falls asleep at the wheel

As much as I admire Marni Cornell and Rod McGuinness, there’s no reason for tears over the death of the online journal New Matilda. The site finishes up on 25 June but they will not be the first or the last such outlet to die.

It was no coincidence Cornell quoted in her pre-requiem, Tom Fitzgerald, the founding editor of Nation. Its successor newspaper the Nation Review was in many ways a print template for what New Matilda aspires to be on line. But like Nation Review it has apparently outlived its relevance, or at least its paying clients.

The owner Duncan Turpie gambled on stopping subscription shortly before it became fashionable again. That was unlucky.

Nevertheless he was rewarded by greater numbers reading the engaging content but they were not followed by advertisers. They should well ask themselves why not. Why weren’t there enough people with products to sell interested in reaching the audience gained by New Matilda? Was it that forgetting that news fills a “hole” or “brings audiences to advertisers” means we also forget how exactly communication is paid for? Was it the ultimate postmodernist paradox that those wise souls that normally read New Matilda paid no attention to the advertising that paid for the news?

I do not know. But while sad we’re about to lose a valued publication I feel certain that great content will continue to emerge somewhere. The available media will expand to cater for it.

Phil Gomes thinks the answer to a post-media future will have to be amateur but I think he is aiming too low. Certainly those still in charge don’t think so. Just witness today’s Australian ads for itself on the ipad.

Where there is a wheel there is a way.

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