The almost-all-girls Nut Graph have called it a night and pulled down the curtains after a six-year run, during the last four of which the site was running on fumes (or love, fresh air and sunshine) after burning through its investors’ initial two-year outlay.
Some reader donations had helped to fuel the site by paying for the weekly editorial contributions of the team, working freelance or from home, Nut Graph editor Jacqueline Ann Surin said in her »farewell piece on Monday; she added she would soon run out of funds to sustain the company, presumably a reference to the balance of the founding investment which she has managed to stretch out for four more years.
Her “dream team” were also heading off in different directions “and my own dreams have also changed,” Jacqueline said. “Running a news site is no longer as compelling as it was six years ago” and she could no longer put in the effort to keep Nut Graph up while chasing her new dreams.The Nut Graph took life in the heady days of post-election 2008, not long after The Malaysian Insider had come online, among a handful of new ventures at the time.
That was when web publishing seemed to offer new possibilities for journalism: alternative news in English on the Internet had hitherto meant going to Malaysiakini, the pioneering online hard-news venture now in its 15th year, or Raja Petra Kamarudin‘s Malaysia Today with its doughy mix of controversial insider exposés and half news half pulpit-thumping commentaries — or entering the loud and rambunctious world of blogs with offerings ranging from the fantastical to the whimsical.The Nut Graph’s semi-intellectual, semi-academic approach to news (its very name stems from American J-school parlance and US trade jargon), its aspirations to set definitive standards in the practice of journalism, and its all-too-obvious earnestness, perhaps reflecting that of its crew, could never have appealed much to the herd of political junkies and Klang Valley chattering classes who keep the English-language news sites going.
Even so, the Nut Graph has its own following, mostly like-minded folk, as common with other sites where the masses seek affirmation of themselves, their values, their opinions and their worth in the coverage, commentaries, and cut-and-thrust of commenting.
Whether it might eventually have been viable as a business venture is doubtful. In the event, the investors decided not to prolong their agony. (Chief of those investors is rumoured to be Tong Kooi Ong, the former Edge-Sun and now Edge-Insider media baron, who surely is a shrewd judge of the economics of the news business.)
Plaudits to Jacqueline and her Nut Graph crew would be well-earned, for nurturing a patch in the wilderness of Malaysian journalism, for commitment to their adventure, and in keeping it going even while the leaves curled up and browned.
For all that they would deserve a better epitaph than a crudely-lettered sign saying