Opinion / Editorial

Why a new publication and why now?

A suburb as vibrant and diverse as Brunswick deserves to have its own local media

Wednesday, February 28, 2021

LIKE many other areas of Australia, Brunswick has been abandoned by the media over the past decade.

Big publishers once distributed local newspapers throughout the suburbs of every major city in Australia and for a long time, there was a fierce rivalry for readers and advertisers between News Corp, Fairfax and independents.

These newspapers employed thousands of journalists and printers around the country. They gave many kids their first job delivering them to every letterbox. But more importantly, they were a voice for their community.

Whether it was shenanigans in the council chamber, planning issues, crime, sport, or just a 50th wedding anniversary, local newspapers covered their communities in both breadth and depth. They played a role in fostering grassroots democracy, they curated important debates, and they recorded history as it happened.

Brunswick was no different. Until a couple of years ago, three newspapers were delivered each week but as the quality began to deteriorate and some publications became little more than glossy vehicles for property advertising, the writing was on the wall.

Now Brunswick has no local media. The News Corp owned Leader group effectively shuttered all of its mastheads in mid-2020, using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to cut back on coverage of local communities.

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Over the years, media owners have deserted Brunswick and the wider city of Merri-bek because their big shareholders see no value in small local media. Local newspapers have either shut down or sold up, acquired by multinational giants like News Corp who have no interest in covering small, eccentric communities like Brunswick.

Producing a print paper is expensive, so it may have been understandable if the Leader group had invested in producing a quality online product instead. But a quick glance at the so-called website of the Moreland Leader will tell you that it has no reporters in the area and delivers no value to the community. Worse still, to access the Leader you must subscribe to the Herald Sun online.

The Leader’s Twitter account has been inactive since 2019, and its Facebook page contains little more than generic fluffy features and some crime briefs.

The reality is that delivering local news is a low priority to Rupert Murdoch’s beancounters in New York. Local print media has no value to a global conglomerate that derives most of its income from television and movies. They just aren’t interested.

The withdrawal of News Corp and other media has left a gaping hole in Brunswick that needs to be filled.

Ours is an exciting, thriving suburb on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD. It is a suburb steeped in history as one of the oldest established areas in post-colonial Melbourne: once a manufacturing hub, it was transformed by postwar migration from southern Mediterranean nations, and has always had a vibrant artistic and cultural community because of its proximity to Melbourne University.

Modern Brunswick is the home to young families who nestle alongside traditional Italian, Greek, Turkish and Lebanese migrants. It is a place full of university share houses which are a haven for indie bands, writers, film makers and artists. Sydney Road hosts hundreds of businesses ranging from wedding dressmakers to artisan bakers, while the backstreets hum with the sounds of espresso machines and microbrewery fermenters.

With annual events such as the Sydney Road Festival and the Brunswick Music Festival, this small suburb within a five kilometre reach of the Melbourne CBD has it all except . . .

. . . except a local media voice.

But there are so many stories to be told here. Behind every local business, every club or organisation is a fascinating story. Behind the walls of so many houses are migrant stories of survival and redemption, while within those share houses are the future of our cultural and artistic communities. Books are being written; songs are being recorded; paintings are being sketched out. These stories deserve to be told.

This our mission as Brunswick Voice. We are unashamedly hyperlocal. We live in Brunswick and we work in Brunswick. We are part of this community and we love it with a passion. And we want to share it with other people who live in Brunswick.

We will scour every corner of Brunswick for news and bring those stories to life with innovative, lively, informative and entertaining journalism.

Ultimately, Brunswick Voice is your voice. May it be heard loud and clear.

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