Bullie’d off the shelves

Bulletin final issue cover from ACP
The Bulletin – Australia’s 128-year-old weekly news magazine – has closed. The demise of the ‘Bullie’ has been blamed on competition from websites and expanding weekend newspaper supplements.

ABC News described the title as having been ‘critical in defining Australianness’.

English language news weeklies have a hard time all over the world because of the strength of US titles such as Newsweek and Time – though even these are feeling pressure from online news.

The Week developed a successful UK business strategy, which has also worked in the US – so much so that Felix Dennis kept the title when he sold off the Maxim-based US arm of his magazine empire. However, The Week follows a Victorian model and keeps costs down by summarising other people’s news; it does not publish original writing from writers such as Peter Carey, as The Bulletin did.

The news comes just days after the sons of Australia’s two media dynasties – Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer – joined forces to take private Consolidated Media Holdings, the remnants of the late Kerry Packer’s media empire. CMH owns 25 per cent of PBL Media, which in turn owns Channel Nine, Bulletin publisher ACP and stakes in websites Ninemsn and Carsales.com.au.

Media commentator Harold Mitchell expressed surprise at the closure, given its closeness to the Packer family, which had owned the title since 1961, in a news report video.

However, media analyst Peter Cox said the magazine had been a favourite of the late media mogul Kerry Packer and upon his death, there had been no need to keep it open.
‘Quality journalism is an expensive product and it has low viewership and readership in Australia,’ he said. ‘It’s not a surprise to me at all.’

The issue of The Bulletin dated 23 January 2008 will be the last.

Profile of news weeklies in the UK.

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