::fibreculture:: 65 hours to go... support New Matilda!

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Sun Dec 12 09:03:00 CET 2010

> http://www.fundbreak.com.au/beta/index.php/archive/index/105/description/0/0
>> New New Matilda attempts old old media strategy
>> Crikey journalist Amber Jamieson writes:
>> Online commentary website New Matilda has one week to raise nearly  
>> $60,000 in its last-ditch subscriberthon, or its virtual doors will  
>> be shut permanently.
>> Nearly $10,000 was raised from individual donations in the last two  
>> days, so the $175,000 target figure -- "the minimum budget for one  
>> year, the very minimum to relaunch the site with," according to  
>> editor Marni Cordell -- is not impossible.
>> The fund-raising strategy used by New Matilda is an Australian  
>> first for a news and commentary site. It's attempting to adopt the  
>> strategies of a community radio station, to "operate more like a  
>> public radio station than a subscriber service" and convince  
>> readers to support New Matilda and sign up as "supporters",  
>> although all content will remain free.
>> In May Crikey revealed that New Matilda was to close in June after  
>> advertising and funding revenue dried up. Cordell then bought the  
>> publication from Duncan Turpie for the grand sum of $10 -- the same  
>> price Turpie paid three years earlier. In October Cordell announced  
>> that New Matilda was relaunching, with a critical "save New  
>> Matilda" style subscriberthon to raise $175,000 by December 15.
>> New Matilda is a labour of love for Cordell, who is currently doing  
>> all work for it, for no money, in her spare time. Associate editor  
>> Catriona Menzies-Pike is being paid to work on the site full-time.  
>> Since the October relaunch an average of two stories per days have  
>> been published on the site, although all authors are now working  
>> voluntarily.
>> If the $175,000 is reached, the money should fund about four days  
>> of work per week for Cordell and Menzies-Pike, as well as paying  
>> authors -- previous standard was $100 per piece -- for publishing  
>> two articles daily.
>> But what sets New Matilda apart from the masses of online  
>> commentary and opinion? "We're a place that people go to to get  
>> context to what's in the news," said Cordell. "We take our role as  
>> editors quite seriously and everything that is published is  
>> thoroughly fact-checked and goes through a process of consideration  
>> and editing that I think other outlets don't necessarily do."
>> Many of their writers used New Matilda as a stepping stone to hone  
>> their skills before then also being published elsewhere."Ben  
>> Eltham, Ben Pobjie, they weren't writing before I became editor and  
>> I think we built up a good stable of regular voices and we became  
>> known for that. I want to foster new talent, more often than not  
>> people are picking established talents from other outlets rather  
>> than fostering new talents and I think that's a shame," declared  
>> Cordell.
>> New Matilda, founded in 2004, started as a subscription-based paid  
>> service, before the pay model was lifted in 2007. Is there much  
>> lamenting that the original subscriber model was abandoned? "I  
>> don't think we should have dropped the pay model, I just think we  
>> should have dropped the paywall. We dropped a really good revenue  
>> scheme and we never made up the shortfall."
>> But why go down the community radio station-style road? "Main  
>> reason is we don't want to limit our audience to people who already  
>> know they like us," said Cordell. "The readership has really grown  
>> since we dropped the paywall and if we close the content we could  
>> lose it."
>> Kath Letch, general manager the community broadcasting association  
>> of Australia and station manager for 14 years at the successful  
>> Melbourne community station 3RRR, understands difficult  
>> subscription drives and building supportive independent media  
>> communities.
>> How to convince people to pledge money for something they can have  
>> for free? "It's about wanting to be part of that community by  
>> supporting it," Letch told Crikey. "It's about the content itself  
>> and it's also about identifying strongly with something and want to  
>> feel some way a part of that."
>> Read the full story on our website

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