Joanna Mendelssohn writes: Re. “Death of The Bulletin: a family affair” (Friday, item 13). I’ll always remain grateful to The Bulletin under David Dale’s editorship for giving me the chance to write fairly cheeky articles on art and cultural policy at a time when daily newspapers were more interested in straight reviews and expanded press releases masquerading as features. Nevertheless even in the early 1990s it was pretty clear that despite some excellent journalists, great photographers and editors who must have suffered acute stress from the pressure they were under, The Bulletin’s best days were long gone. There is a cycle in the life of any publication that sets out to define a country, as Archibald did in the 1880s. First it challenges the establishment, upsetting preconceived notions of what is right and proper, and then in time the establishment woos it. The problem with The Bulletin is that it succumbed to that wooing. While Kerry Packer’s capricious ownership enabled some brilliant writing, it disabled much more. The Bulletin should have been put out of its misery some years ago. From my perspective I’d have to say that Crikey is a worthy successor to the original Bulletin’s larrikin tradition of journalism. Of course if you want to keep that journalistic edge you’ll have to avoid getting too close to the establishment. The first sign of the rot setting in will be if Wayne Swan lets Stephen Mayne into the Budget lock up.
Brett Elliott writes: It’s very interesting reading everyone’s theories on The Bulletin’s demise. As a former copy boy for the mag (a million years ago), it seemed to be unspoken but understood that The Bulletin hadn’t been economically viable for a long time, but Mr Packer kept it going solely to threaten anyone who crossed him with an exposé in next week’s issue, the same reason the Sunday program survived, despite poor ratings. Packer and his rivals knew that even if the general public didn’t read the magazine, journos did, so a nasty write-up in Tuesday’s issue would make front page news in the Fairfax and/or Murdoch press on Wednesday morning. When Packer went, so did The Bulletin’s raison d’etre. I don’t see it as any great loss. It was really only a right-wing good wine guide for the two yacht family anyway.
Steve Johnson writes: I just wanted to support Holger Lubotzki (yesterday, comments) on Tim Blair at The Bulletin. I’d been overseas for a few years so had missed The Bulletin, a magazine I read dutifully for about ten years before I went away. I got to the Tim Blair column that first time and genuinely assumed it was a delicious satire of a right wing loon. I even, prematurely as it turns out, wrote to The Bulletin praising the cleverness of the writing. I couldn’t believe it when a friend pointed out that Tim Blair was fair dinkum, albeit a touch tongue-in-cheek. I then assumed Blair was some sort of contemporary replacement for old David McNicholl’s bah-humbug columns of conservative but entertaining and harmless bluster, but was really disappointed with the choice of Blair, whose pieces quite often got nasty and defensive, and to me anyway, went beyond The Bulletin’s long and effective pedigree of satirical larrikinism. I never did buy another mag.
Hans Von Chrismar writes: Despite all its “rightish” views in the past I have always enjoyed The Bulletin’s in-sightful reporting on Australian and overseas issues. It would be great shame if this historic magazine would just die. Money isn’t everything you know! Why not start a “save The Bulletin” campaign. Any takers?
Jim Hart writes: The really surprising thing about The Bulletin is not that it died this week but that so many people thought it was still alive before then. I don’t want to distress your readers unnecessarily but perhaps they should know that Walkabout and the Argus have also departed from the news stands.
Greg Cantori writes: I too was dismayed at the lack of serious choice in a substitute magazine for The Bulletin. My subscription was a “reward” for committing myself to another year of Optusnet broadband access, so I hold no hope of a cash refund. However, I’ve decided that if I have to read bullsh-t, it might as well be bullsh-t with pictures of babes in bikinis. So I’ll be choosing Ralph in three weeks’ time.
The Murdoch-Packer play:
Christopher May writes: Re. “Governance issues galore in Murdoch-Packer play” (22 January, item 3). There’s an old Yorkshire saying which, when translated into English, goes something like, “From clog to clog is only three generations.” You’ll have to work out the meaning yourselves, but I’ll give you a clue: JP and LM are, once again, proving it to be true.
Guy Rundle’s US election coverage:
Adam Rope writes: Re. “US08: Wondering where America’s at from the Extended Stay Hotel” (24 January, item 4). I just want to back up Luke Miller (Friday, comments) that Guy Rundle’s piece was one of the best pieces I had read on modern America and for me summarised the current economic, social and political strife of the country most eloquently. I haven’t been to the US in two years, since I visited my brother in post-Katrina New Orleans, but the de-centralised, anaesthetised, monotonous, sanitised, homogenous nature of the place is stunning. Such that practically every large town or city in that country is simply a copy of the one you just left.
Dan Crone writes: I just wanted to echo Luke Miller’s sentiments from Friday’s Crikey. Guy Rundle’s reports from the US have not only been informative but he has also painted a vivid backdrop of the society that these races are being projected against.
Greg Samuelson writes: I must say I do enjoy the humour and satire that Carl Richards chides you for (Friday, comments), and for me it’s actually an essential part of the “Crikey experience”. Public life in this country and indeed the world is full of tin pot political and bureaucratic narcissists, grotesquely overpaid corporate incompetents, not to mention bloated self important media types producing hysterical coverage of the at times unfortunate, but in the wider scheme of things extremely trivial, shenanigans of generally overrated celebrities. I look forward to your publishing a list “The Ten Things I Hate about Serepax”.
Kevin Easton writes: Marcus L’Estrange (Friday, comments) either hasn’t heard of the concept of separation of powers, or doesn’t believe in it – regardless, it would be extremely foolhardy to appoint one person as both head of executive government and head of the court that is the ultimate arbiter of the legality of actions by that government. Former Chief Justices, on the other hand, may well be appropriate choices as Governor-General.
More interesting interest rate questions:
Jeff Bye writes: I’m sorry to tell Brian Kent (Friday, comments) that I haven’t the foggiest idea on the answer to his excellent question, but it has inspired me to ask my own “dumb” question in the hope that the financial whiz kid who answers Brian’s question could also answer mine. Courtesy of John Howard’s mantras, we all now understand the link between interest rates and inflation. Lifting interest rates means average punters have less money to spend on other goods and services, thereby reducing overall demand and leading to lower inflation. But consider the other side of the ledger; interest rates go up, we all pay more to the banks, the banks then pay more to their own lenders, therefore putting more money in the hands of these set of (better-off) punters. Isn’t it just shifting money from borrowers to lenders? If this is the case, how does this lead to a reduction in demand and hence inflation? Here’s hoping I’ve discovered a new field of Nobel prizes and not just disgraced myself.
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