Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Following the departure of its chief editor after just seven issues, 'The Monthly' faces an uncertain future. It's been announced that owner and parasite host bankroller Morry Schwartz is doing a bit of editorial adjustment, but whether that means he's hitting Kerryn Goldsworthy over the head with a shovel or just adjusting the font size remains to be seen. I'd hate to think I was not going to have my 12 issue subscription honoured.

The central problem with 'The Monthly' as I see it is that it rewards mediocrity. The magazine reads like the newsletter of some smart artistic types who secretly despise the wealthy society matron in whose salon they congregate. Morry pays $1 a word for articles, which was intended to bring Australia's best writers running. However, what it's actually done is allow a few leech-like writers to attach themselves to him as their main source of income. The best part, from their perspective, is that they don't even have to give up their day jobs to do so. Helen Garner was paid thousands for watching a few Russell Crowe DVDs over a weekend and offering her opinion on them. Amanda Lohrey was paid even more for telling a long-winded anecdote about her daughter's education. Malcom Knox was given front page prominence for what was basically a science fiction story, one with some interesting ideas but terrible characterisation and droning exposition. And John Harms was paid handsomely to go on a roadtrip, and to be the most pretentious dickhead ever to get behind the wheel of a Volkswagen convertible... which, given that he has me as a rival, is quite an acheivement. In fact, the bulk of most recent issues has been what some worthy person opines about an issue, rather than an exploration of the issue itself. It's the Dark Side of Gonzo Journalism.

If Morry wishes, as he once stated, to create an Australian version of 'The New Yorker', he needs to make a few more adjustments:

1) Offer individuals a maximum of no more than four pieces a year, just to keep 'em hungry.

2) Reject any article that doesn't show evidence of a thesis in the first two paragraphs, to avoid directionless rambles by writers from the "stream of consciousness" school.

3) Reject any article that doesn't show evidence of original research to support the thesis in the first three paragraphs.

4) Include some cartoons. Would anyone read the New Yorker without its cartoons?

5) Read my post about the vital importance of honouring the promise to publish the wit and wisdom of Sophie Lee.


Anonymous Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Still standing so far, Bland, but it's early days. Maybe he has already hit me over the head with a shovel and I just didn't feel it. Anything is possible.

And a Merry Christmas to you.

12:38 PM  

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