||Issue No. 200||24 October 2003|
The Hard Yards
Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Unions: National Focus
Industrial: Fools Gold
Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
History: The Gong Show
Politics: The Hawke Legacy
International: Sick Nation
Economics: Closed Minds
Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
Poetry: One Size Fits All
The Locker Room
Advance Australia Where?
God Save Us All
US Seeking Aussie Info
Call The Doctor
Bring Back Gough
Bring Back Social Democracy
Look East, Look West
The Hard Yards
Since our first issue was published in February 1999, Workers Online has attempted to give unions and their members a voice; not through worthy diatribe but through tabloid, in your face news, people-based features and fearless opinion.
From where we sit, this is the language of work and the only dialogue likely to cut through the white noise that is the mass media and resonate with our membership.
Through elections, pickets, peace marches and war, we have given an alternative, progressive story of the world to counter the increasingly dour prognosis served up to us by the paid pundits of the fourth estate.
Over the 200 issues we have broken stories week after week, many of which have ended up in the mainstream papers and TV shows that dominate our public conversation.
We have raised issues that would otherwise be ignored; giving space to debates as important as water privatisation, job security and international labour rights.
And we have tried to create an online union culture where films, music and sport are viewed through a political framework that is as irreverent as it is dialectic, but never scared of taking a stand.
We have done so because we believe that a workers press must explore all aspects of working life, not just a narrow industrial agenda; and that until unions take this wider view, we'll be consigned to fringe players in our members' lives.
Have we succeeded? There is no doubt that Workers Online fills a gap in the movement and that many of us would miss it if it were not there. When you lob into someone's inbox every week, you get under their skin.
Our readership, now averaging 15,000 per week is substantial in online terms - at the very least a sign that the key network of union organisers, officials and delegates, as well as those with political and industrial links, use our service.
But we should not overstate this. Even with 15,000 readers we are talking about less than half of one per cent of the entire union movement's membership. If the aim of Workers Online was to create a new workers press, then we have only scratched the surface.
In retrospect there is no doubt that my dreams of a workers' online press, where the rank and file would log on each week and get their news, were premature.
It seems obvious now, but in 1999 the momentum was such that a wired and connected world appeared to be just around the corner.
Now with the tech wreck and the War on Terror, these seem like pipe dreams and we should be prepared to wait at least another five years for this great leap forward.
So this commemoration edition, printed also in hard copy for the first time, is not just a souvenir - it is a cry for help to those who run the trade union movement.
The stories in these pages are only read by the few, our challenge is to turn this into a product for the many. And to do so we need to look at trade union journals, the hard copy editions sent to the homes of all trade union members.
These journals that are read in their hundreds of thousands are narrow in their scope, preaching in their tone and, with a few notable exceptions, largely unread.
If we need to create a new unionism to survive, it must be based on common values and a common voice - and the first step is for us to share our stories across the movement
Our 200th edition plea is for union leaders of vision to adopt the Workers Online model in their own journal and share it with their membership.
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