by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Panpa Bulletin : March 2011
www.panpa.org.au 16 | MARCH 2011 | The PANPA Bulletin MEMBER PROFILE A DEDICATED readership, trusted reputation, high editorial standards, healthy revenue base and strong circulation – the stuff of dreams for newspaper publishers – and it is how the editor of the Koori Mail con- fidently sums up her paper. In May this year the only nation- al Indigenous-owned and funded newspaper will celebrate its 500th edition with “a big party in Sydney”, according to Koori Mail general man- ager, Steve Gordon. “For the last four years our cir- culation has risen,” said Yuwallarai woman and Koori Mail editor Kirstie Parker. “That’s no mean feat particularly in today’s industry.” The Koori Mail began in 1991 in re- sponse to the dearth of media atten- tion given to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. “If Aboriginal and Torres Strait Is- land people were reported on, it was often from a very non-Indigenous perspective, from people who didn’t have a lot of knowledge about Abo- riginal history, let alone contempo- rary reality,” said Ms Parker. The paper was bought by five Aboriginal Bundjalung community organisations a year after it hit the streets. The five groups still own the paper today, each with a 20 percent stake in the paper. “The important thing is, they are Bundjalung community organisa- tions. They are not media organisa- tions,” Ms Parker said. “The board’s interest is that this place runs as a fantastic business and does the right thing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.” The Koori Mail has grown from a small 24-page paper covering north- ern NSW, to a national fortnightly publication with an estimated read- ership of 100,000. Its audited circulation sits at 9,428 but an estimated 10.7 people read each copy. “Compared with Brisbane’s Cou- rier-Mail, which has about 1.7 read- ers per copy, our readership figures sound ridiculous,” Ms Parker said. “But the Koori Mail goes to every Aboriginal Land Council, Health and Legal Services and every Abo- riginal education unit in Australian universities. “Our research suggests those who get the Koori Mail pass it around to all of their extended family mem- bers in houses where 20 people can live in the same house.” The readership of the Koori Mail is a mix of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; plus those with an interest in Indigenous affairs and policy makers and influencers. “The government and bureaucrats know Aboriginal and Torres Strait Is- lander people read the Koori Mail, so if they want to understand or com- municate with our people we are an obvious vehicle,” said Ms Parker. The small team of 11 staff based in the northern NSW town of Lis- more has cultivated a national edito- rial agenda through a solid network of contacts and contributors around the country. “Thanks to technology – I would hate to be doing this job 20 years ago when we started – we can con- nect easily with our readers. “Around 50 percent of what ap- pears in our newspaper originates from reader contact, through our website, emails and people calling us,” Ms Parker said. With 7,858 Facebook followers – a triumph for a small circulation news- paper – the Koori Mail will soon need to reconsider its decision not create an online version of the paper. Teasers of stories are put on the Koori Mail website and Facebook page, but to read the full article you have to buy the printed version. Ms Parker said training and re- sources inhibited further explora- tion online, and comparatively fewer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households have access to a computer. Online editions or not, Ms Parker says the Koori Mail has lead the na- tional agenda on Indigenous issues, with mainstream media sometimes years behind. “I am really proud of our cover- age of issues such as the Stolen Gen- erations, pre- and post-apology, our ongoing campaign for stolen wages, the repatriation of indigenous re- mains, and the very balanced way we have reported on stories such as the Northern Territory interven- tion,” said Ms Parker. The Koori Mail has refused to per- petuate the false notion of a unified Indigenous viewpoint. “Twenty years ago you might have said you were either with us or against us, this was the Aboriginal view,” she continues. “That is not the case today. “We recognise the diverse opin- ions in our community. “Our position is that if you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person and you can articulate your view, you have a right to express yourself in our paper.” Ms Parker was the first Aborigi- nal cadet at the Perth metropolitan daily, The West Australian. “I was really grateful to train with a big, non-indigenous media organi- sation, because I was exposed to rounds such as court reporting, con- sumer affairs and arts reporting . . . you did the TV pages for crying out loud, and there were senior journal- ists who had time to train you.” Most Indigenous media organi- sations are small and simply don’t have the resources to train Indig- enous journalists on their shoestring budgets, according to Ms Parker. Although the number of Indige- nous journalists in Australia remains sparse, Ms Parker was optimistic about the state of coverage of Indig- enous issues in the wider Australian press. “A lot of coverage of Indigenous affairs is really intelligent, really perceptive. People don’t have to be sympathetic but they have to be em- pathetic,” said Ms Parker. “Some of the coverage is really dumb and ill informed but some of it is great, and I think that is an ad- vance.” The Koori Mail often operates as a go-between for non-Indigenous reporters looking for contacts in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “I am really happy to help jour- nalists out with contacts and advice. Hopefully, it will result in better cov- erage of the issues which affect In- digenous people” she said. But Ms Parker was adamant that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t need any favours from the media. “We don’t need journalists to write bleeding-heart stories about us. All we want is rigour and balance which would be an improvement on what we have in some places today.” Good news stories are rare in any newspaper but they are particularly rare when compared with positive stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. “People often say, ‘Oh, all I ever read about in Indigenous affairs is negative’, but not if you read the Koori Mail,” Ms Parker said. “Of course there are challenging stories in our newspaper, but we don’t have to scratch anywhere be- low the surface to know that there are truckloads of positive stories in our communities. “People in our communities are doing wonderful things all the time and that’s what we love to report on.” Getting ready for the Koori Mail’s 500th edition . . . Koori Mail Editor Kirstie Parker and Koori Mail chairman Russell Kapeen, of the Kurrachee Co-operative at Coraki, one of the five owning organisations of the newspaper 500 not out Australia’s Indigenous newspaper celebrates its 500th edition. REBECCA LEAVER speaks with editor Kirstie Parker about this unique newspaper Rugby player Timana Tahu chose to speak directly to the Koori Mail after he walked out of the New South Wales State of Ori- gin camp after an alleged racial slur from assistant coach Andrew Johns The souvenir edition for the Indigenous All Stars Rugby League match. . . the Koori Mail went all out with a 8-page wrap around