So long, the (melbourne) magazine…and thanks

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After nine years and 107 issues Fairfax announced today it is closing down the (melbourne) magazine and a number of other titles.

From the moment I joined theage(melbourne)magazine in September 2004 as a casual writer I began working with some great people. There was editor Sally Robinson, deputy editor Angus Holland, art director Ken Leung, designers Peter Schofield and Fiona James, fashion editor Lisa Chivers, production editor David Green, sub-editors Matt Holden and Felicity Lewis, fashion assistant Kate Gaskin and the indomitable office manager, Bronwen Sewell.

It was a hoot from the very first day. The editors had me crawling through storm drains one minute and calling up notable Melburnians (Professor Allan Fels, Dr Hugh Wirth, Rod Quantock) asking them what they’d do if they were Premier for a day the next (Bettina Liano would have put a tax on ugg boots to discourage people wearing them down the street, for what it’s worth). Over the course of my time with the mag as staff writer and then regular freelance contributor I knocked on doors of complete strangers, hunted platypuses and met caravan fanatics.

In the old Age building on Lonsdale Street (before moving to Media House in 2010) we were the naughty editorial kids on a fifth floor dedicated to administration, accounts and HR. Between turning out quality editions in a timely and professional manner there were improvised indoor cricket matches (stopped after an editor of the Good Food Guide was struck on the arm in silly mid-on), a clippings wall dedicated to funny pictures of animals and then-Lord Mayor John So snipped from the Herald Sun and a bank of computer servers behind which I more than occasioanlly used to siesta.

Yes, it’s been a fun nine years but not without its challenges. As the media landscape changed there were goodbyes to some and also some new faces to meet, including fashion stylist Indianna Foord and three respective art directors Adam Cruickshank, Derek Samuel and Mark Stehle; deputy editor Stephanie Wood; new staff writer Konrad Marshall came aboard after I went back to freelancing in 2010 and, most recently, coeditors Lucy Beaumont and Clare Kermond joined the team.

Of course, there are many more names associated with the magazine: Dani Valent, Jonathan Green, Bill Perrett, Michael Shmith, Philippa Hawker, Tom Ryan, Tim White, Paul Bangay, Melinda Houston, Jeni Port, John Lethlean to name just a few. And photographers too: James Geer, Isamu Sawa, Dan Mahon, Simon Schluter, Bonnie Savage and many more.

But the hardest and saddest thing was to say goodbye to the colleagues who passed away. Vale fashionista extraordinaire Lisa Chivers and Steve Berry, manager of Fairfax Books.

So. What will Melbourne do now without its monthly glossy? Judging by some of the feedback we received when our first

A picture of issue number 1 of the age(melbourne)magazine. Published in late October 2004.
Issue number 1 of the age(melbourne)magazine. Published in late October 2004.

issue came out a small but vocal portion of Age readers won’t struggle with the frustrating dilemma of not being able to use such glossy stock as toilet paper. Others might miss the stories about interesting Melburnians doing inspiring and creative things.

For my part, I’ll miss the regular work – I love journalism and the (melbourne) magazine gave me an opprtunity to cover so many interesting people and places. It opened many doors and allowed Melbourne to reveal itself, incrementally, over nearly a decade.

Thanks Melbourne mag.

The last issue of the (melbourne) magazine will be published in The Age on Friday October 25.