You can tell how good a newspaper is from the enemies it keeps. The Australian wrote a sneering dismissal of the new Saturday Paper, launched last weekend, and used its ultimate insult by comparing the new paper to Green Left Weekly, calling GLW “ignorant, moralistic and simplistic”.
This is from a paper whose editorial line doubts the existence of climate change, claims locking up refugees in offshore detention centres indefinitely is the more humane option and promotes a “user-pays” system in health care, education and welfare.
It attacks GLW, which it has previously named the “best known radical left newspaper in Australia”, because it campaigns for the opposite position on almost every issue. But if GLW was as irrelevant as the Australian tries to make out, why would it bother attacking it so often?
The real worry to the Australian is that the “people before profit” ideas expressed in GLW will appeal to people more broadly. In 2012, the Australian was anxious about the burgeoning movement to stop coal seam gas production across the country, which united environmentalists and farmers in a common fight. It wrote: “Something is badly amiss when Queensland bushies embrace Green Left Weekly.”
GLW was always conceived as a newspaper that had the potential to reach a broader audience. Unlike other socialist papers that strictly reflect the “party line”, GLW prints a wider range of opinion and aims be a space for debate among people in the social movements.
Beyond that, it does not want to just speak to the existing left-wing movements, but to express socialist ideas in an accessible way. For meaningful social change to happen, radical left ideas need to be taken up by the majority of people in society, and that means involving people who do not consider themselves left wing today.
Although a newspaper is a useful tool to campaign for socialist ideas, people need to be organised to see these ideas become reality. That is why GLW has had a close relationship with the Socialist Alliance since it was formed in 2001.
Members of the Socialist Alliance play a crucial role in writing, distributing and fundraising for GLW.
Every week, hundreds of Socialist Alliance members take a bundle of GLWs to distribute at political rallies and forums, their local markets or shopping centres, workplaces and university campuses.
At a time when the Tony Abbott government is launching attacks on so many different parts of the community, reading a copy of GLW reveals just how much resistance there is to these attacks and gives hope that people can fight back and win.
GLW gives a platform for the political views of the Socialist Alliance – that a socialist alternative in this country is possible - and tries to build alliances between people involved in environmental, anti-war, feminist, union and many other campaigns.
Through distributing the paper one-on-one, members of the Socialist Alliance help create a movement that connects people from different parts of the country and builds a real left-wing alternative to the broken Liberal-Labor system we have today.
The Socialist Alliance also supports GLW as a strong, independent media outlet. There is more need than ever for independent media to report what the government is trying to keep secret and analyse their positions.
The mainstream media is facing a crisis in Australia. It can no longer rely on the business model that worked for decades, and it seems few know how to make money out of newspapers any more. While the corporate media have always restricted what was presented as news, today the news is even more narrow, journalists are forced to recycle media releases and tailor their articles to topics that will get more online clicks, and hence more advertisers' dollars.
In this context, GLW is a beacon for people interested in real news. The Socialist Alliance is proud to have helped GLW reach 1000 issues, and will continue supporting it so that it remains Australia’s best known radical left newspaper.