Saturday, January 26, 2008

Farewell to The Bulletin!

So The Bulletin current affairs magazine - racist, radical and later probing in its time as an icon in Oz publishing - has been axed by its foreign equity masters. Another corporate nail in the coffin of independent journalism. The Australian, in an editorial, mused:
Surviving 128 years from provocative newspaper to colour magazine, the publication served generations of readers well, from its initial sell-out appearance in Sydney on January 31, 1880, onwards. The announcement of its demise made yesterday a sad day.
John Lyons, writing in The Australian's Media section had this to say:
An American chief executive working for a Scottish boss who represents a Hong Kong private equity fund yesterday closed an Australian institution with a 128-year-old publishing history.
Welcome to the brave, but soulless, new world.
When The Bulletin's death was announced at a 10am meeting in Sydney yesterday, it ended a tradition begun with the likes of Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson and Miles Franklin, survived through literary greats such as Donald Horne and given a new lease of life in recent years with the likes of Les Carlyon and Laurie Oakes.
Its last edition, which went on sale two days ago, features lengthy articles by Thomas Keneally, Frank Moorhouse and Richard Flanagan.
Having worked full time on The Bulletin in the late 1990s and continuing to write for it until last year, I gained a sense of what the magazine meant for both the Australian public and the Packer family. It says everything about who now controls what used to be the Packer empire - a private equity company called CVC Asia Pacific - that the matriarch of the family, Ros Packer, was not even given the courtesy of a phone call to tell her that the magazine that had been at the centre of her family's media empire had been closed. She found out, by accident, when she turned on her television at 2pm.


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