Guest Post: National Times will respect, not ridicule, our readers

Fairfax’s new comment site, National Times, launches today. In this guest posting, editor Darren Goodsir sets out his plans.

There is clearly a huge yearning in the community for intelligent, level-headed debate about the news. Not just the headlines. There’s already more than enough of that around. But concise, intelligent commentary and analysis about what has happened; and what the news really means.  

It is also clear that readers increasingly want to be part of a debate; to exchange ideas and feelings about current events, and breaking news, in a place where their views are respected, rather than pilloried.

Readers are expressing a desire to learn more, and to have their thoughts challenged and provoked, without ridicule.

Fairfax Media’s new online site, the National Times, will deliver the best in Australian journalism – giving readers an unprecedented depth and diversity of views and opinion…but also giving them a say.

It will be a home for the most lively, intelligent and engaged debates.

The nationaltimes.com.au will showcase the best analysis, commentary and opinion from Fairfax Media’s established print and online mastheads.

It aims to become a must-read destination for those seeking the most authoritative and sought after views on politics, current affairs and social analysis.

The nation’s most celebrated and respected journalists and commentators, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, brisbanetimes.com.au, watoday.com.au – and more than 160 of our rural and regional titles – will be featured on the site. Household names like Peter Hartcher, Michelle Grattan, Ross Gittins, Tim Colebatch, Catherine Deveny, and Paul Sheehan will join with an expert team of contributors and bloggers – posting analysis through the day on matters as diverse as arts and politics, religion and sport, cinema and philosophy…as and when news happens.

The National Times newspaper – from which the site takes its name – started in 1971. Almost immediately, the National Times masthead set itself apart for its rigorous and provocative stories and images – quickly building a reputation for adventurous journalism.

Perhaps, more than any piece, the National Times is best remembered for its publication of secret case summaries from the Costigan Royal Commission – and the ensuing label Goanna.

(The royal commission had given the code name The Squirrel to a prominent business figure it claimed was allegedly involved in drugs and corruption, later revealed to be Kerry Packer. To try to disguise Packer’s identity, the newspaper toyed with a new label The Possum until an inspired Adele Horin chimed in with the Goanna. The tag stuck, and the Goanna series caused near hysteria throughout the country – although the accusations were never sustained. Packer eventually outed himself as the Goanna.)

The site will revive the Goanna as its signature columnist; a national and political sketch-writer and diarist.

The website, nationaltimes.com.au, will focus on local and international commentary, analysis and opinion. In all that it does, it will seek to emulate its forerunner’s dedication to the highest journalistic standards and ethics – and to giving its readers the best words, pictures and art.

The National Times encourages debate and discussion – comment and criticism, on everything that it publishes. Readers will be able to post comments, exchange ideas and debate in online forums with our award-winning columnists and journalists as well as with other dynamic voices from around Australia.

The site will also link to important journalistic resources from around the world, and the globe’s leading newsrooms.

With a team of expert reporters and commentators in Canberra and across the country, our mix of quality editorial, commentary and analysis, combined with links to other voices from around the world, will ensure that readers have access to multiple articles, essays, opinion pieces and blogs on topics of interest to them, re-enforcing Fairfax Media’s reputation at the market leader in online news and opinion.

It’s an exciting time to be in this space in Australian journalism: it is growing fast, and is competitive and dynamic.

  • Darren Goodsir is Editor of Nationaltimes.com.au

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