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Opinion

How InDaily worked for the community in 2021

Opinion

Here are some of the highlights of our work in 2021 – a year in which InDaily continued its tradition of fierce independent journalism in the interests of South Australians.

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In our seventeenth year providing an alternative media voice in South Australia, InDaily has published hundreds of stories, with the ongoing pandemic dominating much of the news agenda.

But we don’t measure our success using just numbers – we focus on the impact of our work on the community.

It’s been a significant year for South Australians and, as a state, we should be proud of what we have created here. We’ve reported on amazing local businesses, selfless individuals, community success stories, and a myriad of opinions – informed, quirky, challenging. We’ve charted every turn in the COVID-19 story, from day-to-day basic information to more complex analyses of the science and politics of the pandemic.

We’ve also reported on other issues that should be deeply concerning to the community.

Our primary reason for being is to hold the powerful to account. It’s sobering how much work has been required in that regard.

The behaviour of the powerful

One of the most significant and under-reported stories of the year has been serious allegations of sexual harassment against a sitting magistrate.

InDaily reporter Stephanie Richards broke the story in May, with federal prosecutor Alice Bitmead telling us that she was repeatedly sexually harassed by a serving South Australian magistrate. Her allegations led to the state’s first-ever judicial conduct panel. The magistrate, who has denied the allegations from Bitmead and other women working in the law, has been suspended from duty while the panel investigates.

Richards was also responsible for breaking another under-reported but deeply concerning story: the terrible state of an Aboriginal health centre serving some of the state’s most vulnerable people. The SA Health-owned building in Ceduna is riddled with asbestos and mould – not fit for purpose. And yet, as we reported, attempts to fund an upgrade have fallen into a ‘bureaucratic wedge’ – caught between state and federal funding bodies.

Parliament and beyond

The reputation of our parliament, arguably, reached a new low this year, with MPs facing prosecution, and reports alleging terrible behaviour in the halls of power. before the courts. We’ve been relentlessly following Parliament’s shockingly slow response to the “toxic” workplace culture and revealed other deep questions about what’s going on there.

We don’t report on backroom manoeuvres in politics as some form of entertainment: we believe the public should know as much as possible about what’s happening inside the parties that make decisions about their future. It is sometimes argued that factional disputes are simply games for political insiders, without relevance to the public. But senior journalist Tom Richardson’s reportage this year shows that it is well worth paying attention. Without his exclusive reports, the community might not be aware of dynamics that could reshape the state Liberal Party. Whatever your view on a massive recruitment drive within Pentecostal churches, it looks likely to change the policy approach of the governing Liberal Party in years to come.

Likewise, rumblings about senior minister Vickie Chapman’s decision-making processes in relation to a Kangaroo Island port proposal could have appeared to be only of obscure political interest. InDaily kept reporting, asking questions and giving our readers the best chance to understand the story’s development. It proved to be one of the biggest Australian political stories of the year, despite a lot of competition in that regard.

We also weren’t going to let our state’s politicians get away with an overnight rewrite of the ICAC Act without significant scrutiny. We poked, prodded and explored the extraordinary changes to anti-corruption laws in a forensic fashion. When every MP in parliament supports changes to laws directly relating to their accountability, the media needs to step up.

Healthy scrutiny

Our health system was also a big story this year and, again, one that attracted our relentless attention.

Senior journalist Jemma Chapman provided for our readers the most comprehensive coverage of the crisis in the system. There were stories about the upswing in ramping, people dying while waiting for ambulances, struggling facilities and awful treatment of people working in the system. Among the most troubling was this report on inhumane waiting times for mental health patients. While COVID is attracting attention, Chapman also shone a light on another epidemic – one that is a growing problem in South Australia with enormous implications for the health system.

It’s difficult to examine power in South Australia without reflecting on the media’s relationship with power. This isn’t a common thread for journalism in this state but we have applied our independent viewpoint to issues like government advertising contracts, media diversity and the complex and often opaque relationship between the media and the government. In a time of COVID – where the quality of government information is crucial for people’s wellbeing – we weren’t afraid to question and dig, as Tom Richardson did in this recent piece.

There’s more journalism I could highlight but I’d like to turn the focus to you, our readers.

You are all crucial to our role in South Australia: you challenge us, sometimes point out our mistakes and misjudgements, and support us by telling us your experiences and concerns, occasionally blowing the whistle, as well as reading, sharing our articles and donating to our cause.

We go into 2022 – an election year at state and federal levels – more determined than ever before to fulfil our unique role in South Australia.

Thanks for reading and I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy holiday season.

David Washington is editorial director of Solstice Media, the publisher of InDaily, CityMag and SALIFE.

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