As everyone who followed Larvatus Prodeo knows, we decided in April last year to sound the Last Post.
But, prompted by some urgings on Twitter, we have resolved that we can’t let an election year go past without blogging.
So, refreshed from what has turned out to be a hiatus rather than an end, we’re very pleased to be back!
We intend to continue with some of the features that helped build a lively commenting community, but there will also be some differences.
The decision to return was not an easy one. We don’t want to add to the chatter about the horse race that seemingly dominates coverage in the mainstream media this election year. At least so far.
It was telling, for instance, that Barrie Cassidy this morning on Insiders breathed a metaphorical sigh of relief that Parliament is resuming tomorrow and Newspoll is to be released. The coverage of the Prime Minister’s visit to Western Sydney had been too much, and the ALP had succeeded in shifting the media agenda to 457 visas and infrastructure. With relish, the panel started dissecting leadership scenarios, then moved on to the question of when several current and former Ministers and Kevin Rudd knew about Ben Zygier’s incarceration. That’s a question I suspect is of no relevance to any voter anywhere.
Whatever you think of 457 visas (of which more in coming days) and Julia Gillard, it’s incontestable that the former raises important public policy and philosophical questions and that the PM was engaging with citizens. Whether or not she met enough ‘real’ people, as the media obsession might have it, she was undeniably seeking to engage.
The press gallery, if Insiders is any indication, resents any extension of politics outside the political chatter at which they specialise. Grassroots activism, represented by the surge of Greens support counted in Kimberley last night (which may well indicate that campaigning on issues matters more than the apparently anodyne sloganeering which elsewhere in the Western Australian election saw the Green vote go backwards) is literally off their radar and outside their comprehension.
Yet, as events in Italy and elsewhere where new forms of politics emerge (albeit tensely) in relation to online activism, social movements and concerns about corruption, care for the planet and others, and the pathways of daily life have shaken systems, there is no doubt that the confines of electoralism and media ‘narratives’ are increasingly discordant with what politics actually is in 2013 and beyond.
There are also troubling signs that the MSM disease has spread.
We are fortunate, however, that there is a plethora of independent media online. For instance, there is Crikey and New Matilda, and a host of new blogs and online publications that have in many cases emerged from Twitter and other interesting spaces since we’ve been away.
We hope to contribute to a focus on policy, ethics and accountability in this campaign, supplementing and we hope, adding something to the debate that already exists.
It may be that we’ll be less polemical than we were in previous campaigns. We won’t hold back in expressing our own opinions (the “hivemind” often differs) but we will seek to ground and argue them.
What you can expect from us is analysis around four themes. Those are Policy, Process, Polls and the Politics of the Election. We want to reserve our right to range across anything that happens (without seeking to be a blog of record) but with a core focus on analysis and truth telling.
We don’t see ourselves as ‘citizen journalists’ – though occasionally, as in the Brisbane floods, we may play such a role. We are bloggers, pure and simple, and we recognise that with our commitment to our readers also comes ethical obligations and accountability. We are resolved to continue to be as open and transparent as we have been in the past. For instance, we will be disclosing political affiliations (our collective includes both members of the ALP and The Greens, as well as unaffiliated folk) and in commenting on policy, will note any interests we have. For example, readers have a right to know whether the author of a post on telecommunications policy has telco shares.
If the blog has any overall politics, it is a left orientation to a politics of truth and reason.
We hope that both our regular commenters and a stack of new ones join in, with the intent to discuss the gamut of issues and events with humour, focus and generosity.
We’re also going to write about what we think worth writing about outside the election focus. For instance, I intend to have something to say about the Conclave and the Crisis in the Catholic Church.
We are very glad to be back with you! We hope you enjoy the ride on the Big Purple Blog!