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The Bulletin Axed After 128 Years

Australian Consolidated Press Magazine today announced that The Bulletin magazine is to close after 128 continuous years of publication.

This week’s edition will be the last for the iconic publication.

The cover of the final edition of The Bulletin, dated January 29, 2008
The Bulletin's last cover - Jan 29, 2008

The Bulletin began publication  in 1880 and became known as the “bushman’s bible”.  It was fiercely nationalistic and xenophobic, economically protectionist, and republican.  Until Donald Horne became editor in the 1960s, it carried the slogan, “Australia for the white man” on its front page.

The magazine was acquired by Sir Frank Packer in the  1960s.  It soon shed its commitment to publishing Australian literature.  It developed a link with the American Newsweek magazine and came to be seen less as a politically conservative publication.

Declining circulation over the past two decades caught up to the magazine with today’s announcement.

In recent times, the magazine has provided employment to a number of future politicians, including Bob Carr, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Maxine McKew.

Text of today’s media release from ACP Magazines:

ACP Magazines Chief Executive Officer, Scott Lorson, today announced that weekly news and current affairs title The Bulletin with Newsweek would cease publication from the current issue of the magazine which went on sale on 23 January 2008.

The Bulletin is Australia’s longest running magazine and was launched in 1880.

In the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures, The Bulletin had 57,039 in sales (Sept 07), which is down from circulation highs of over 100,000 in the mid 1990s. This trend is consistent with that experienced by many leading weekly news and current affairs magazines globally and is somewhat symptomatic of the impact of the internet on this particular genre.

“This is a sad day for all of us at ACP Magazines. The Bulletin has been an institution in Australian publishing and has provided its loyal readers with the best quality, in-depth news and current affairs analysis in the country. The Bulletin has often set the political agenda, broken many important stories and won many awards for journalism over the years,” Lorson said.

“We have invested heavily in the title with top editorial, photographic and design staff who have been devoted to making The Bulletin the best of its genre. However, despite our best efforts, the magazine has simply not been commercially viable for some time. With limited prospects for improvement, the time has come to make a very tough decision.”

ACP Magazines Group Publisher Men’s & Specialist Titles, Phil Scott, said The Bulletin’s Editor-in-Chief John Lehmann had done an outstanding job since joining the magazine in mid 2006.

“John and his staff have maintained The Bulletin’s commitment to quality journalism and tackling the tough issues. Under his guidance it has won a Walkley Award and three Magazine Publishers Australia Awards,” Scott said.

Ian Law, Chief Executive Officer PBL Media, said the decision to close The Bulletin had been made reluctantly.

“We all had a sense of pride in the title. John Lehmann and his editorial team produced a top quality publication and should be commended. But the reality is that the publication has been running at a loss for a number of years and we could see no prospect of this trend being reversed,” Law said.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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