Friday, 25 April 2008

No Reaction Magic for Catalyst

Catalyst, Catalyst, Catalyst, where do I begin?
Having arguably the most respected Journalism course in the Country, I sure did expect more from this 'pamphlet'.

Catalyst is the Student Publication of RMIT, Melbourne.

Unfortunate for Catalyst, I've only really had exposure to Student Media in the form of Farrago (The rag of The University of Melbourne) - a witty, political, relevant and intellectual masterpiece which is of course entirely dependent upon who is in office at the time. I remember Farrago having great insightful content with a great mix, some heavy some light in the early years.

The same cannot be said for Catalyst...

Perhaps I should start with the Editors, since it is they who are responsible. It takes three of them to put Catalyst together but I should be more lenient as one of them is actually an 'Advertising Editor' - which to me is actually a bit of a schizophrenic role. How can one be an Advertising Editor?! They both have different interests at heart - one works with words, the other works with clients and artwork. An Advertising Coordinator is perhaps a more appropriate title. Anyway this person actually allowed a booking of numerous half page colour ads from The University of Melbourne. Yes that's right, advertisements from a competing institution trying to take students over to the 'dark side' (or light side from whatever way you look at it). I'm sure Prof. Margaret Gardner would be more than happy to endorse the possibility of losing students from within!

In the first issue for 2008, another Editor actually took to defining the meaning of editorial whilst a third confused the word meet with meat in this month's edition. They are desperately advertising for additional writer's but as they have as a disclaimer stating that they won't publish hateful, spiteful, defamatory, racist, sexist, homophobic, or deceitful work I doubt if they'll have much luck. So you see where is the fun in that? It's called opinion and free speech which makes for an entertaining read.

Formatting throughout the publication is psychedelic with fonts coming at the reader from all different sizes, sans serif, serif, over capitalisation - you name it! Forget sub-editors! When you have the power of cut, copy and paste - why bother! Who cares if you mix between one form of English language to the next. (Which happens to be largely American English due to the large number of International Student submissions). Don't even get me started on the content or lack of it. Think sports reports, music and festival reviews and a token VSU article.

Regarding the covers... I can just see them all in a brainstorming meeting:
"Anyone got any ideas for this month's opening cover?"
"Urm Yeah - how about a sepia, photographic art, totally 'cool', subculture one?"
"OMG what an awesome orginal idea!!!!"

I must be getting old because everytime I go to pick a copy up, I have to ask myself if I have already wasted five minutes of my life by reading it. This publication is destitute if it does not generate some much needed cover diversity!

I think in largepart the problems stem from the fact that any Tom, Dick or Harry can become Editor of Catalyst since most challenges for office positions at RMIT remain largely uncontested.

A link to Student Union Magazine homepage can be found here.

(Apologies for the lazy image cropping)

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