Welcome to Eureka Street, Mark II

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An ageing agnostic introduced me to Eureka Street in Rockhampton in the mid-1990s. Joan Brady had led an interesting life: frontierswoman in Central Queensland, mother of ten, consumer advocate, financial counsellor and political activist and an early recipient of a heart transplant.

Her caustic language bewildered and alienated many, yet her passion for social justice, indigenous equality and empowerment of the little person was legendary. Thrusting this weighty publication into my palms, she remarked that it was ‘time for me to really get educated’.

Her recommendation did not disappoint; for the next decade I was an occasional reader of Eureka Street, consuming it in doctors’ surgeries and public libraries, and sharing it with subscriber friends. Sadly, like many others, I never proffered my own cash for the education.

As a communications specialist, I admired the quality of the articles in the magazine and dreamt of seeing my name one day in its print. I envisaged my first article as some prominent commentary on Australian culture lending itself to extensive original thought and acclaim as an important piece of intelligent discourse.



Instead, I find my contribution somewhat less lofty as I try to ease you down gently about the demise of the print edition, while bravely highlighting the numerous advantages of the publication’s move to online. We all have our life’s expectations unmet on occasion!

As chief executive officer of Jesuit Communications Australia, the owner of the Eureka Street masthead on behalf of the Australian Jesuits, I am in the unenviable position of overseeing the ending of this print era. It is not easy. Many of you have taken the opportunity in recent months to let me know the central role the magazine has played in shaping your reading habits and even your lifestyle choices. The pleasure of reflective reading—in bed, on a train or in the garden—being replaced by devotion to a computer screen has proved, and will prove, too much for some of you.

For all those who have built an ‘institution’ around the print format of the magazine, I apologise for the decision to remove it. Whether it be the closure of transport or other public services, the demise of a sporting club, the rationalisation of churches or the loss of faith in political parties, it is difficult to see positives in the crumbling of ‘our’ institutions.

But it is my hope that this sense of loss will lead to Eureka Street’s great gain. It is no secret that subscriber numbers had been on a downward spiral in past years and that financial losses were mounting. It is a testament to the Jesuits’ commitment to independent media and public affairs that the print format had not ceased earlier. This also had much to do with the strong will of several editors and the quiet determination of former publisher and now editorial consultant, Fr Andrew Hamilton sj.

The gain in going online is in Eureka Street’s accessibility to many more readers with significantly lower production costs. Long-term travellers with the magazine would be concerned if this were at the expense of the publication’s ethos—to tell stories from a humane perspective often lacking in other media. Care has been taken in the planning stages to affirm this mission and to avoid the pitfalls of populism, so prevalent in all forms of publishing today. Eureka Street has had, and will continue to have, a focus on the human dimensions of individual, communal, political and international situations. The online form, with the possibility it offers for quick public response, will enable it to engage its readers more directly and frequently.

For you subscribers, I am acutely aware that proof will be in the tasting.

Eureka Street will launch online on Tuesday 16 May 2006. Most existing subscribers would be aware by now of the other detailed changes including the annual individual subscription price of $45, for which they will receive 24 fortnightly email editions. These will also be accessible, along with several other features including newsletters and editorials, on the publication’s website, www.eurekastreet.com.au

Experienced online editor Michael Mullins will be the new editor of Eureka Street, replacing print professional Robert Hefner, who very ably took charge of the magazine for much of the past year.

From my desk I overlook the asphalt-laden Eureka Street, a laneway behind our North Richmond office in Melbourne. I watch the street’s movements every day. Like other parts of our nation, it forms a great picture of Australian community life. The postie doing his rounds on his two-decades-old bicycle; the female octogenarian pushing her manually powered mower against her handful of grass strips; the Vietnamese school children; the urban professionals in their inner-city playground; the retired; the unemployed (or so it seems to me); and the neighbours who, in the midst of all the busyness of city life, still enjoy a smile, a nod, a conversation or a glass of beer on the verandah on a Friday afternoon.

A far cry from the Anglo-Celtic domiciled, working-class cottages of the street’s earlier inhabitants a century or more ago, I think to myself. Yet, no different in many, many more respects. Likewise, welcome to Eureka Street Mark II, friends, where the new and old blend together in renewed harmony. 

Tom Cranitch is chief executive officer of Jesuit Communications Australia.

 

 

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Existing comments

Thank you for the perspective,coming at a time when I was finding it difficult to know in which direction to look.The analogy of "the street" to the "journal" is very helpful.I can already think of other life experiences where this sort comparison will be very useful.
Bruce Swain | 04 May 2007


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