October 28, 2010 | Graham

What would online-only mean for Meanjin?

The SMH carries a story that literary magazine Meanjin is to become an online only publication.

I’ve mixed feelings about that.

For starters Meanjin shares a Queensland heritage along with OLO, with its name in fact deriving from the aboriginal name for the land where Brisbane is situated. So, along with many Queenslanders I feel a pride in the magazine, even though I rarely read it, because it is one of the family grown-up and made good.

Queenslanders still have an unjustified chip on the shoulder when it comes to academics endeavour.

I’ve been a little surprised sometimes to suggest to writers from Queensland that they pop into our office next time they are in town for a coffee when as often as not they say “It’s OK I don’t get down to Sydney/Melbourne very often”.

They frequently appear genuinely puzzled to find we’re Brisbane based and are just as likely to say “I never thought you would have done something like this from Brisbane.”

In the modern world of digital publishing there are a few good things happening in Brisbane. Larvatus Prodeo our neighbour on The Domain is a Queensland initiated publication and Wotnews is also a Brisbane-based concern.

For that matter, before Queensland, and more specifically Nambour, had exported Kev and Wayne to the national stage, she had already exported Nambour-born Stephen Mayne, the founder of Crikey.

Be all that as it may, Meanjin moved to Melbourne in 1945, 5 years after it was founded. Things were very different then in Queensland, both socially and geographically. Brisbane really was the outer limits of civilisation with only the far north after that.

It was also one of the publications where I aspired (unsuccessfully) to be published back in the days when I wrote poetry.

Meanjin has always struggled to survive, and the move to online only seems to confirm that there is little market for specialist literature offline and that this move is part of the gradual and final decline –  a little death.

Perhaps more than a little death. While I am an enthusiastic proponent of online publishing that is primarily for the field of news and current affairs where content and currency, not so much presentation, are what is important.

I don’t buy literature to read online. If I am going to buy a book I want something that I can hold in my hand, dog-ear and mark with a pencil (or occasionally furtively with a biro if I’m desperate and caught short on graphite). Certainly it’s current site is not encouraging and bears little relationship to the elegant covers that I associate Meanjin with.

But perhaps the modern generation is really different, or perhaps the economics will be so much in Meanjin’s favour that it won’t matter if the market is much smaller.

So all the best Meanjin. As the Internet knows no barriers perhaps your centre will migrate a little closer to home.

Posted by Graham at 2:53 am | Comments Off on What would online-only mean for Meanjin? |
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October 25, 2010 | Graham

We live in a time of pygmies

Watching John Howard on Q&A tonight made me think about a few things. He’s certainly a class act and a cut above any subsequent Australian Prime Minister or Parliamentary Leader of the Liberal Party. But he comes from a political generation where a significant number of politicians from both sides could have done what he did tonight.

Perhaps not in the same way. For a 71 year old he has an extraordinary memory. When Tony Jones suggested he’d invoked the ANZUS Alliance as a reason for going into Iraq he almost gave him time and date of the press conference when he invoked it and pointed out it was in respect of Afghanistan.

He was also impressive when ambushed by David Hicks, trotting out arguments he probably hadn’t used for years on the spur of the moment, and even recalling dates about the genesis of the US Military Commission.

His performance left an impression of authenticity, despite the fact that he deftly refused to answer questions, diverting answers to something else. His skill here was not just the diversion, but that it seemed to satisfy the audience. And I think he achieved this by showing how complex some of these issues are.

Julia Gillard demonstrated just how good Howard is by suggesting at a function tonight that the Liberal Party was adopting Hansonist economic policy because of Joe Hockey’s bizarre comments about banks and interest rates. She just doesn’t sound authentic, particularly when one realises that Treasurer Wayne Swan has been threatening the banks over rate rises for the last 3 years, Joe Hockey’s call was remarkable because of how out of line it was from Liberal party policy, and that the Resources Rental Tax and National Broadband Network are just the sorts of things Pauline would have embraced.

And then there is that phrase I’m sure she borrowed from Kevin Rudd “I’ve told my caucus quite clearly…”.

Of course, Tony Abbott had given her some room to move on the economic issues because he hadn’t gently repudiated his treasury spokesman’s suggestion.

Who would have thought that the Good Ol’ Days were less than three years ago?

Posted by Graham at 1:39 pm | Comments (6) |
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October 19, 2010 | Graham

Why you should be careful dealing with Bob Ward, Director of Communications for the Grantham Institute

PR professionals who are genuinely professional are generally very careful not to lie to journalists, or at least get caught out lying. It’s not so much a matter of professional courtesy, but necessity. (more…)

Posted by Graham at 1:04 pm | Comments (27) |
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