In a bell of unknowing
When chief correspondent Martin McKenzie-Murray filed the first draft of his probing essay on paedophilia, it was a reminder of why we publish each weekend. We started The Saturday Paper as a newspaper about more than news.
Nearly 10 months ago, when we printed our first edition, we described our aspiration to be a “young paper with tenacious vision; a paper defiant of trends and conventional wisdom, trusting in a country that needs sophistication in place of sophistry, that yearns for calmer debate and better journalism”.
We would be “a newspaper for a country more serious than it is often credited with being”. The paper’s complexity would be “hidden in its simple aspiration: to chronicle, unsparingly, the age in which we live… to drag news out of the narrows into which it has been forced and make a virtue of knowledge that is broad and deep, to try in a single paper the great task of explaining Australia”.
McKenzie-Murray’s essay lived outside the fiendish demands of the 24-hour news cycle. But it spoke eloquently to one of the defining themes of 2014: child abuse and the failings of institutional responses to it. It was intellectually fearless, deeply personal and utterly compelling. It was everything The Saturday Paper aspires to be.
The same is true of Luke Williams’ Walkley-nominated account of crystal meth addiction, Mike Seccombe’s careful marrying of economics and environmental policy, Sophie Morris’s unsparingly even coverage of Canberra.
The paper’s unique voice is there in the criticism of Christos Tsiolkas and Dave Faulkner, the commentary of David Marr and Paul Bongiorno, the food pages of Andrew McConnell and Earl Carter, the portrait writing of Ceridwen Dovey and Kate Holden and Romy Ash.
After its first year, The Saturday Paper has found its place telling stories that are not told elsewhere. It has found a voice that rings in a bell of misinformation and unknowing. It has found boldness and fearless purpose.
Moreover, The Saturday Paper has found an audience: readers who want stories that matter, who want the wheat sorted from the chaff of page impressions and click bait, who appreciate complexity and independence. With your support, we will be here for years to come.
It seems fitting to finish this as we began all those months ago: with a statement of intent, now realised. “The Saturday Paper is about permission: permission for a country to look at itself unselfconsciously; for writers to tell stories that are ignored elsewhere, in ways that challenge orthodoxy; permission to question authority and provoke debate, to round up an issue, to yap and growl and demand we be better. We promise to be a small but handsome mongrel, a blue heeler cross of the press.”
Here we are, and will continue to be.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Dec 20, 2014 as "In a bell of unknowing". Subscribe here.