I started this blog on July 16th last year, so it’s now in its second year. I started it because I like thinking about the issues of the day and writing about them, and I had been doing that for a long time. The decline of the print media, and the possibility of running my own website, combined to push me into it.
In the first year I wrote 326 blogs, which is a little more than six a week. I’ve settled down to a Monday to Saturday darg, not because Sunday is for rest and religion, but because what the media see as the real issues continues into the beginning of the weekend and tends to die on Sunday.
By real issues I mean of course political ones, because politics has been my interest, and the analysis of it my competence, since the early 1960s. Just about anything can have a political dimension, and in our country often does. So, despite the number of different subjects on the home page, about 180 of the posts concerned politics in one way or another. About the same number had a historical dimension too, because to me politics can only be understood in a historical context, and I was first trained to be a historian.
‘Climate change’ was the topic in about 120 posts, and it is the subject that draws in general the highest readership. The post which had the largest number of readers, and is still drawing them, however, was a recipe for Mushroom and Smoked Salmon Risotto! Another well-read post was one on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, because the book was 200 years old at the time I wrote about it.
Over the year I learned the hard way about apparently causing offence, when a well-intentioned post of mine on indigenous affairs apparently upset a reader, and the legal consequences of that post have still to be played out. Since the use of a person’s name was part of the problem, I decided to avoid using names where that could be done, which then drew a complaint from someone that I hadn’t used her name when I might have! But I have learned caution, and re-read what I write each time to make sure that I am not unintentionally causing offence.
Politicians are thought to be fair game, however, and the antics of our current Prime Minister are hard for commentators and cartoonists to resist. Since I have come to know a lot of politicians over the past sixty years, and find them to be as human as the rest of us, I tend to be polite and forgiving in print. In fact I have never found attacking the person at all a sensible way to go, in journalism, politics or in any other domain. Causing offence is not something I ever set out to do. But as I learned a year ago, it can happen, nevertheless.
I know, from having spent a few years working for the Australian government at different times, that effective government is an extraordinarily difficult business. We the electorate make a rod for our backs by asking politicians to help create the better world that is in our heads, but since there are, for the sake of a number, a hundred single-issue groups out there all wanting a better world, and one hundred different better worlds, it is not surprising that politicians play up to us, and that we find them generally wanting.
After a year the website gets about 200 hits a day, more when there is a special post (special to the readers, rather than to me) and fewer when I like it but most readers passed it by. I can say that every post has at least been read by someone other than the author! In the past month there have been 2389 visits and nearly 5000 page-views, meaning that on average readers look at least two posts. More than third of all those readers came to the website for the first time. I hope that they continue to come, and of course the readership has been growing slowly but steadily over the twelve months.
On Monday it will be time to return to Our Leader (I can’t help sending him up, because he is such a caricature) who, having in his view successfully defused the policy time bombs waiting for him in the electorate, must now be about to announce the date of the coming election. My interest lies mostly in how he will defuse the most powerful of the time bombs, which is not about policy, but about Labor’s actual management, and the party’s leadership, over the past six years.