It won’t surprise you, but it was impossible to keep Covid-19’s grubby mitts out of this edition. Yet, as Gippsland hopefully emerges from the other side of the pandemic, we didn’t want it to be the star of these pages — not the mongrel virus.
Quite contrary to several other facets of Gippslandia, the team selects our guiding topic for the issue well ahead of schedule. Remarkably, as Covid-19 spread and the world’s health spluttered, an industry that has felt the worst effects of this coronavirus, our media, was the topic we’d flagged much earlier for Gippslandia #15.
What was meant to be a celebration of our region’s news providers became more of a check-in and check-up with our print brethren, an update to hear if they’re okay, some grieving upon learning of the losses, and reserved optimism for new projects.
This edition leads with a piece (p.6) that was gratefully developed with the assistance of many of the fine folk who are involved in print media in Gippsland. As we’ve frequently said, we haven’t felt other print publications as competitors, rather we’re all aiming to be part of the tide that lifts all boats, boosting Gippsland. The region is fortunate to have some very accomplished journalists (our People Department features three examples, p. 36), and chatting with them again, we feel honoured to be dalliancing in their realm.
We hear from some of our young media stars (p. 9), celebrate the lovefest of one of our regular contributors (p. 19), chuckle at some sports writing clichés (p. 21) and gain insight as to why the coverage from last summer’s bushfires spread so rapidly (p. 22).
There’s reason to celebrate, with the arrival of The Paper in South Gippsland (p. 23), Sharon Anderson and Bryce Magnuson demonstrate the accessibility of screen printing (p. 25) and the frenzied fashion feature is our ode to Gippsland’s tireless newspaper makers.
Speaking of odes, Andrea Lane and the effervescent East Gippsland creative community are launching a gallery that honours… scallops!
They’re utilising a range of mediums to share their poignant message, including a couple of stunning woodblock and lino prints (p. 44)
We hear from one of Australia’s most revered political illustrators, Mark Knight (p. 49); Rio Davies chats with James Wagstaff, President of the Rural Press Club of Victoria, on the state of the industry (p. 56) and Nick Jeremiah shares a theory that could tweak your news consumption (p. 58).
This edition speaks to why Gippsland’s print media is valuable to the community they’re embedded in, and how there can be a mutually beneficial relationship between our region’s news sources and their communities.
"Start small. Find your voice and self-publish"
Now, I’m here to say that you can create media to amplify your voice too.
It is why Kione’s illustration, presented here, triggered such a powerful reaction for me. Anyone, especially you, can kick-off your own publication and start to share the stories important to you. No one has to be beholden to the narrative that multinational media barons dictate for us.
Here’s why I believe that you can do it — we did it, and, frequently, we’re the biggest gumbies we know.
Start small. Find your voice and self-publish. As I’ve said, you’ll learn that many others in Gippsland’s media industry will be supportive of your success.
Sure, you could just write it on social media, but I firmly believe that reading these same words printed on paper triggers a different reaction than on a screen.
Our General Manager, Michael Duncan, has frequently raised the question, “Are they an influencer or a person of influence?”. Too often, social media stars fill our feeds with empty calories. Listen to your community, observe and try to present the stories that matter to them.
You could become Gippsland’s most renowned food and wine critic, challenge Mark Howard’s The Howie Games as a leading sports authority, or create the raddest zine showcasing the best gigs by girl punk bands in eastern Gippsland (I’m sure Amber Irving-Guthrie, p. 59, will be cheering you on).
Covid-19 has exacerbated the challenges currently facing Gippsland’s media industry, causing some of our grandest publications to seem a bit hoarse, but let’s not let them lose their voice.
Kione Kochi’s illustration is reprinted here with permission from the artist and Half Letter Press. The work of a Japanese artist for a US publisher’s poster series, that featured in the State Library of Victoria’s Self-Made: Zines and Artist Books travelling exhibition shown at the Latrobe Regional Gallery. Now, that’s a trip!