Times move on, opportunities die. RIP Entropy.

Today I read on a friend’s Facebook status that UniLife, the student magazine at the University of South Australia (formerly Entropy) has died. This is more significant than you might think.

For those of you who don’t know, I got my leg-up in music journalism writing for Entropy back at the beginning of the century. When I started writing for Entropy, I wrote mainly metal columns, occasional show reviews and, when the office got them, metal releases. I still have the majority of the Entropy issues that my work appeared in. But besides music journalism, there were essays of mine, some fiction I think, and various letters on various topics that irked me at the time (and make me shudder to read now, of course).

I was writing fairly regularly for Entropy, when it was under the editorship of Rod Magazinovic (I think, maybe it was Chris Tamm? Someone verify this for me!) that it won awards for being the best student magazine in Australia. It really was a driving force of good journalism, insightful work, and literature and political consideration that was never matched by any of the other student rags in Adelaide. All the other student papers I ever saw were utterly juvenile in comparison.

So, today when I learned that the successor to Entropy, UniLife, had died, I was quite frankly shocked. While in my opinion UniLife was a far inferior publication, in both format and the last lot of content that I saw, for it to have died due to lack of funding is absolutely terrible.

Many people would say that it ought to be expected, and that with the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism (unlike mandatory student association membership when I studied), that it’s amazing Entropy/UniLife lasted as long as it did.

But the thing that makes me sad is the fact that the death of the student paper deals not just a blow to one’s cultural life and sense of belonging as a student – and the voice that it gives the students to “talk back” to the powers that be – but all of the opportunities that die with it.

For context, many of the people on the Entropy team that I worked with, I am still friends with – even now many, many years later. I got my first break writing for a “real” publication, FasterLouder, when my former editor at Entropy, Rod Magazinovic (who was the music ed when I first started writing for the student rag), headhunted me and asked me if I wanted to write for him again. Of course I wasn’t going to say no!

A student magazine provides amazing opportunities for students. It is not just comprised of writing – and getting your work published in a student rag is an incredibly verifying experience if you’re a writer – but also art, photography, solid arts criticism (books, music, art, festivals, theatre, film); it provides a great way for students to interact with and discuss or intervene in the political and student climate of the day; and it provides those who are keen the fabulous opportunity to be involved in a solid team, to plan, run, design, and manage the project from start to finish. It’s work experience of the kind you just can’t get anywhere else.

For a writer like myself, whose first love is fiction but whose secondary (and, now, almost primary) love is critique, there was no better way to flex one’s muscles and test one’s mettle than by writing for the student paper. Without my time at Entropy ten years ago, there is no way in hell I would be the editor of Metal as Fuck now. More to the point, I wouldn’t have been able to get such an early head-start into music journalism, the experience of which now enables me to write my music journalism course and mentor budding music critics.

Some might say that with the state of the internet now, as compared to ten years ago, it oughtn’t to matter whether you get have such an opportunity within your tertiary institution. However, what I got during my time as a freelancer for Entropy wasn’t just knowledge of the trade, but it was the cultural flow-on effects. The fact that I am still friends with those whom I worked with back in the day – some of whom now write or shoot for me at MaF – speaks volumes. The networking you get out of it is just one tiny element of such papers’ brilliance.

To see an award-winning magazine like Entropy die like it has, from lack of funds, is devastating. Students need a voice – and Entropy/UniLife was that voice. But even more than the voice that students need, is the opportunity to be involved in a project that can have positive long-term flow-on effects, as it did in my case.

If you care about this issue, I encourage you to put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, and tell the University of South Australia what you think.

Send letters to General Manager Keith Rudkin and Unilife President Kelly Graham-Sutton at GPO Box 2471, Adelaide SA 5001. Email Keith.Rudkin@unisa.edu.au and Kelly.Graham-Sutton@unisa.edu.au .

CC letters to UniSA Vice Chancellor Peter Hoj, University of South Australia, 55 North Tce, Adelaide 5000. Email Peter.Hoj@unisa.edu.au.

10 thoughts on “Times move on, opportunities die. RIP Entropy.

  1. Believe it or not folks, Entropy Mag (now UniLifeMag) is still alive and well.
    The magazine was driven into the ground by the 2009 editor – it became a dull and empty mag, uninterested in (and therefore uninteresting to) the students. Nearly all content was created by the editor; student contributions were activly discouraged.

    I’m leading the 2010 UniLifeMag editing team, who are hoping to return the mag to what it should be – a hub of student culture. We’re going to be printing every two weeks in 2010 – our first issue going live on March 1.

    I’d be interested in having a chat to anyone who worked on the old versions of Entropy – what worked, what didn’t etc.

    If you’re interested, give me a shout at liam.mannix@unisa.edu.au

    Cheers,
    Liam

  2. Yeah, right on Andrew! Beautifully put, particularly loved the ‘upkeep of roads to keep the beer flowing’ analogy. In this complex world, everything is entwined.

  3. A sad day for all, made none the easier by the fact we all saw it coming, like a beloved Gran with terminal dementia. Chris Tamm and I were editors back in ’05, when VSU was just starting to sniff about the billabong to see who or what it could drag under and eviscerate for sustenance. Meanwhile, Entropy was my fulltime job and paid my bills. But that was just the beginning. Whether the likes of Abbot and Co read it, fact was kids of all ilks, skill levels, bents, interests and blank psychoses got involved and made it what it was. It was a training ground for future employment if that’s what people wanted and could be bothered getting off their arse and having a go (I sure did, and it worked very successfully), it was a place to get your stuff published if you could be bothered getting of your arse and submitting, it was a place to come in for a sack of free CDs because we couldn’t be bothered getting off our arses to throw them out. They key point here is getting off your arse, and having discernible reward for doing so, skills you carried with you forever, like a bitching denim jacket with a ‘Very Metal’ logo on the back. This is what has really been lost. The right-leaning and their ilk ought look very, very carefully at what their blind assention to market forces has really done – what VSU really meant was ‘fuck you – I’m okay’. Abbot used the example of a single mum supporting the abseiling club. Why on earth, right? But then, I personally have never, ever owned a car but I’ll happily contribute to the upkeep of roads as beer travels along them to get to my stomach in the shortest possible time. Never had a liver transplant but I’ll help fund a doctor’s training as the roads I fund are well awesome at getting me unhealthy amounts of beer. Never believed Saddam had WMDs but fuck it – I’ll help pay for a few rounds to keep the status quo. No, wait… right-wingers seem allright with that one. Nice one, fucktards. A very sad day, and where are these wondrous ‘market forces’ that were going to sweep in on a golden steed and bear the talented and the determined to employable, fulfilled safety? Too busy working out how to pay the electricity bill, but at least there’s a bit more money for that now Entropy’s gone so it all works out, right?

  4. Good article, Leticia, raises many valid points. Re: winning best student mag award – that was in 2004 when Samantha Ryan and myself were editors. Chris Tamm and Andrew Lees were the eds in 2005 and took the runners up award.

    1. Aha! Yes, you’re right! I was writing for Entropy that year; I think that’s probably how we met, Derek. 🙂 I think I wrote for Entropy from 1999-2005.

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