The North


Issue Nº 2

Printed Newspaper Journal, Autumn/Winter 2014



By Michael Peschardt

Launching a new magazine on the Northern Beaches with a ruddy great gun on the front cover was always going to be a gamble. But that is exactly the approach the Editors of this publication took when launching the first edition of ‘North’ late last year. Some will have liked it. Some not so much. But most importantly of all, it got my whole family talking. And then reading. Which can only go down as a massive great win. ( Fellas, you got away with it.)

The reason why Edition 1 was good, and Edition 2 is even better, is that ‘North’ reflects the way the Northern Beaches, and its wider surrounds, really are today. The reason I am writing this foreword is a prime example of the way our community operates. I mentioned I liked the magazine while sitting in my regular coffee shop in Newport (Zubi). Steve, who runs the café, immediately put me in touch with the guys who publish it. We meet for another cup of coffee, find we know so many people in common working here and overseas, and before you know it, I am typing some words up, to insert here.

This is a very small world in which we live, but the whole ‘insular peninsula’ riff does now seem strangely outdated. ‘North’, like the whole of the Northern Beaches, reflects a community full of staggeringly talented people, doing extraordinary things, making an impression locally and internationally. One of the reasons, it is such a good place to live.

It is perhaps exactly because this is such a solid base, that so many feel confident enough to spend their time ‘looking out’, travelling and working in every corner of the world. I was on a bus in Seville in Southern Spain last June and found myself sitting next to a group of young travellers from Elanora Heights. Some kind of Northern Beaches’ connection seems to crop up everywhere you go.

The importance of ‘looking out’ is beautifully reflected in this edition. There are some stunning shots from the United States chronicling a way of life, which I thought had long since died out. Truly haunting images.

There is no doubting the style, energy and imagination of the small group of young locals who have put together this whole magazine. I think the greatest strength is that ‘North’ concentrates on people, telling their stories with verve and imagination. 

Tabloid journalism has become a dirty word – synonymous with sex and sleaze. It was not always thus. The  inventor of tabloid journalism was in fact not Rupert Murdoch. The genre predates him by well over half a century. Lord Northcliffe, the founder of the Daily Mail in Fleet street, invented the controversial new style of reporting.

At its best, tabloid newspapers are full of energy, giving readers what they want –  fascinating stories about the people around them. Not dominated by endless ‘think-pieces’ written by, with, and about the establishment. Lord Northcliffe, who began life as Harold Harmsworth, was the first to appreciate the changing tastes of his readers.

Tabloid journalism is all about engaging with the community, and that is what ‘North’ can do for us. It is off to a very fine start. It is unlikely the founders will end up in the House of Lords ( though perhaps after the return of knighthoods etc, you can never be sure.)

I think the main reason I have been asked to write these few words is that I am not of the ‘youth’ demographic. And unlikely to be so, ever again. The young people putting in all the effort on ‘North’ seem to have limitless energy.  (This is being done in their spare time by the way. They all have rent paying jobs to hold down as well)

But it strikes me that ‘divisions’ between young and old no longer stack up on the Northern Beaches in quite the same way they may have done once. I may be kidding myself terribly about this. ‘Nothing so foolish as an old fool etc.’ But I think this is a much more cohesive community than it has ever been. More united. Wonderfully so.

Grand parents and grand children are now often equally interested in surfing, rock music, photography, gardening, cooking, traveling, computers, films. The list goes on. It is quite a change. And we are all – regardless of age - intensely interested in good stories, well told. Which is where’ ‘North’ can truly find its voice.

Whether it be community gardening in Avalon, or riding freight trains in the American mid-west, there is much to be gained from reading this second edition.

Looking forward to many more.

* Michael Peschardt was a Senior Foreign Correspondent for the BBC and presented ‘Peschardt’s People’ on BBC World for many years. He has lived on the Northern Beaches since 1989.