Farrago and the future of publications
Bespoke magazine stands holding copies of Farrago, the student magazine of the University of Melbourne, are a common sight to those who have wandered the Parkville campus.
Since 1925, Farrago has been written by and for students. Originally a student newspaper, it has evolved into a publication featuring a mixture of commentary, culture, creative work and art. For many, Farrago is the starting point for students interested in the world of media, publishing, pop culture and communications.
Former Farrago editors include prominent author of The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas (1987) and Associate Editor of Crikey News, Meg Watson (2013).
2018 editors Jessie Paris-Jordan, Esther Le Couteur, Monique O’Rafferty and Ashleigh Barraclough discussed Farrago including their plans for this year. All four are studying the Bachelor of Arts, or are a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Arts.
What are each of your roles as Editors of Farrago?
M: I take care of the graphic design, visual aesthetic and social media side of things.
A: I’m in charge of covering news and campus-related events.
E: I look after the creative sections, which includes creative writing, poems, short stories and creative non-fiction.
J: I manage the non-fiction side, that includes features, interviews and reviews – there is a bit of crossover with Esther in creative memoir. Ash, Esther and I each manage our team of subeditors for their sections. And we all share the responsibilities of Radio Fodder, our digital radio station established in 2015, and Farrago Video, our video unit established in 2016.
What sort of skills in the classroom have you been able to apply through Farrago?
A: For me it is definitely the application of media law, moral ethics and concepts of what a news outlet overall should be.
J: My breadth subject, Foundations of Computing has been incredibly helpful. I used programming and coding to improve our online presence.
M: I have applied a wealth of knowledge through Farrago. This includes prior to becoming an editor, where I learned how to write articles and how to become a columnist. Now I’m using more of the marketing and social media skills in my role as Editor.
E: Farrago has given me a space to apply creative writing skills and literary theory, while learning more practical, hands-on skills that I didn’t necessarily learn in my English/History degree about managing teams and what it means to really workshop and prepare writing for print.
There is a big Farrago community at the University of Melbourne. Describe the Farrago community and how has it helped you?
J: Prior to finding the Farrago community, I was nervous and shy and spent a lot of time on Wikipedia. Everyone is incredibly open, supportive and fun and has helped me become more confident in myself.
M: Coming from interstate, I was nervous about adjusting to life in Melbourne, but the Farrago community is the reason I’m still here at the University of Melbourne.
A: Farrago provided me with the first significant opportunity to involve myself in the University of Melbourne community. It enabled me to meet people with similar interests and goals, which has been immensely valuable. Thanks to this community, I feel more confident in where I'm going with my media career, and I hope that I've been able to help others do the same as an editor.
E: The community is really beautiful and welcoming—I feel so lucky to have come into this group of people! It’s really great to have a supportive community around you at uni and I think the media collective really brings that warm feeling of a cohort to our degrees.
What sort of adjustments have you had to make as a print publication in a digital world?
M: We are dedicated to distributing 3500 copies of each edition across campus; but each edition is also published online in full on Issu, and we use social media to increase readership.
Most of our stories are shared on Facebook, whereas we use Instagram to highlight the graphics and Twitter for on-campus news.
What are some of the new initiatives and plans for 2018?
J: We’ve been experimenting with satire in a new section called “The Grub” with a new satire team. There is also ongoing work in the digitisation of our archives and previous work. Ashleigh has started a fortnightly campus news briefing to cover all the happenings on campus, and Monique has been doing work in creating more video content for Farrago channels. We’re also planning to hold more launch parties and other events so stay tuned.
How can students get involved?
If you want to write or create something for us, but you’re not sure what, we also write up monthly content lists. You can use those for inspiration. Also, writing opportunities pop up all the time on the media collective’s Facebook group—like, people to interview and stuff to review—which are a great way to dip your toes in if you’re not sure where to start.
Finally, come and say hello at one of our regular events. Or just pop into our office on the fourth floor of Union House and say hi.