New Matilda, which has whistled out to its readers that it's back in business (almost) and looking for financial backers. One can only wish them well, given the dire state of journalism emerging from their mainstream cousins.
Crikey remains our only going concern among new media boutique businesses and even then it's hardly a thriving enterprise. The MSM's ventures into online news commentary - the ABC via The Drum and News Ltd via The Punch - have made this market a crowded one, raising the question of whether New Matilda could make it as a paying site.
Kim at Lavratus Prodeo ventured that journalists these days are so busy opining about the few events they are reporting on that no-one is actually going out there are breaking news anymore - or at least developing new and different angles on developing stories that shed a fresh light on issues of public interest.
The media's ping pong commentary last week over the Gillard and Abbott visits to Afghanistan was a case in point. All the cheap opinionating and commentary over questions of mind-numbing insignificance (was Abbott too jetlagged?) crowded out any attempt at proper analysis of the progress of Australia's war effort and the foreign policy implications of our responsibilities there.
Making a similar point in Crikey (subscriber only) was former Age editor Michael Gawenda, who questioned why the ABC was spending money on an opinion site when it could be investing in real reporting. ABC News Radio, for instance, operates largely as a rip-and-read service with 15-minute repeating headlines on news, sport, finance and the weather. And the huge investment in ABC News 24, the television service, seems to be just spreading the meagre reporting resources ever more thinly.
The fact is that good journalism is built on the exercise of patience - in building contacts, establishing trust, developing understanding of complex issues and providing historical context. There is not an immediate return on investment in this business. But in the long run, the value of a media outlet's brand reflects the time and money it takes to create the capacity to break news and forge quality analysis that holds readers and viewers and keeps them loyal.
What is happening now is that the new public spaces generated by evolving technology and changes in consumer behaviour are growing at a pace faster than the ability and resources of media organisations like the ABC to generate quality content that does not devalue their brand.
This is why they are all flocking into the "thumb-sucking" opinion market. It's cheap. It fills all that white space without too much additional effort. And it requires no investment in time, no need to build and maintain contacts, no fiddly research and fact-checking and very little production work.
All that's needed in Opinion World is for someone to say something provocative that starts an online conversation. Of course, there is a role for this sort of thing. But when everyone in the media has got their thumbs in their mouths, there are no hands free to do the digging that the Fourth Estate was built upon.