The news on Meanjin is that there is no news. The meeting of the Subsidiaries Committee, as pointed out by university administration, was never going to decide Meanjin’s fate in a single session last week. Even if the issue has been bubbling away for 18 months. The final decision will rest with the University Council although it seems likely that Glyn Davis will want to micromanage the outcome.

The public airing of grievances (see Crikey 4 June 2007) has presented some interesting conundrums. First, why, of all the board members of Meanjin, did Peter Craven in his opinion piece for The Age think it necessary to name-check Chris Wallace-Crabbe? Does Craven think that Wallace-Crabbe has somehow betrayed the cause? And what cause is that? We appear to have witnessed the Melbourne literary scene fracturing along unsuspected tribal lines.

The second curiosity is the vexed issue of Meanjin’s readership. Readership, as we know from fudged figures provided by our daily newspapers, does not have to correspond with copies sold. The figure of 2000 copies is the official figure quoted by editor Ian Britain. Someone else close to the action has suggested that 800 is nearer the mark. As for that reported three/four split on the board decision to go with MUP, it seems that it might in fact have been unanimous. Ian Britain’s editorship was never in question but, as one source said, he was ‘not much of an administrator’.

The final enigma concerns Peter Craven and his continued spruiking for a brand which no longer exists. Unless, of course, it is a virtual brand, Scripsi (edited by Craven and Michael Heyward) having rolled over dead in 1994. On that estimation, Craven should have no problem about a journal going on-line.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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