Magnetic Island North Queensland
  Phone 0427 398 838 Thursday 22nd o February 2018 on Magnetic Island  
A young koala's beach adventure

September 19th 2007
Still swell to be here!

Do you remember when Sunferries was the brand new ferry company - successfully taking on the old established order at a time when Islanders yarned their way down the prettiest of front paths (the Picnic Bay Jetty) on their way to and from work? At the same time, while the Island's longest and hottest public argument over the man-made wasteland at Nelly Bay Harbour raged away, a small band of residents worked late into the night for weeks as they taught themselves how to produce a new Island newspaper. When it was launched, it was called Magnetic Times. That was ten years ago today!

Leading with a first cover headline, "It's swell to be here", and running a photo of the occasional good surf to be had on Magnetic, the 20 page paper was printed in an edition of 1200 on 100% recycled paper and distributed to all Island residents through their letterbox.

Our first cover from September 19, 1997

Researching and writing stories sometimes all through the night, learning computer desktop publishing as we went, designing and selling adverts, dealing with scary letters from solicitors when we upset the big end of town and the often raucous paper folding parties of wine and typo spotting, were all part of the very intense life we took upon ourselves as we threw ourselves before the discerning eyes of Magnetic Island's residents.

Started by Wendy Tubman (now of Fiji), Penelope Sheridan and myself, George Hirst, the paper came out fortnightly and grew to 32 pages. After yet another paper (yes, there once were three!) had entered the market, we decided that, after six years of paying for printing, the internet was the best way to survive with our brand of independent and community orientated journalism. In 2002 it made us the first north Queensland newspaper to go online (beatcha Mr Murdoch!) and for that we thank the genius of Icelandic lover of Magnetic, Valberg Larusson who provided us with his prototype Cypress software.

In 2005 we were honoured when we were awarded the Telstra Media Award for best Website and, as the years passed, we watched as our world-wide readership grew. We still don't know how many of you readers there are out there exactly. Some stats programs say over 3000 per day while others put us at around 1000. What we do know is that is still a lively place for Islanders - especially our News Club readers who number over 750 - and anybody else interested in Magnetic, to come and read and discuss issues about the Island which matter to them.

We are also grateful for the long and steady support of our advertisers who have kept us alive and the many readers who tip us off for stories or contribute their own, often brilliantly expressed comments.

We know that some of you would still prefer to hold our pages in your hands but the reality of independent publishing for a small community in the 21st century - when the traditional media is swamped by massive multi-nationals - means we must make the most of the web. And with over 1700 Magnetic-related articles and over 4000 Magnetic-related images searchable through there are definitely advantages.

Perhaps, when electronic paper becomes cheap and ubiquitous, the portability of our pages will once again return. In the meantime we say: it's still swell to be here!

George Hirst & Penelope Sheridan

To add your comment, see below

Still swell to be here!
September 19th 2007
Congratulations George and Penelope!
September 19th 2007

Happy Birthday George & Pen,
Well done - and thanks for your support of the Great Tropical Jazz Party for the past 10 years.
Don and Marjorie
September 19th 2007
Congratulations George and Pen. We continue to be grateful for the link you give us to the issues on Maggie, wherever we are.
edwina Carey
September 19th 2007
Many gracious thoughts for your hard work forever more. Subdivision has started in front of me, apparently 42 blocks on 10 acres. The sewer lines come to the very edge of my boundary. I dont need notification because its not "assessable". Operational works are btwn 7am and 7pm 6 days per week. In the 2nd week they have had 2 days starting at 6.30 and before 7am. Bastards!!!!! And if I want to see TCC decision notices I have to pay $50 plus. (Abridged Ed.)
Pat Trewin
September 19th 2007
Magnetic Times has been my home page since I decided some years ago to move to Maggie in my retirement, and it keeps me well in touch with the 'feel' of my future home. I am pleased to say I will be moving north early in 08 and would like to thank - and congratulate - you both on doing such a great job for thoose of us who'd love to be there, but for one reason or another, can't. Your newspaper has been wonderful for me, and I wish you many more years of publishing it.
Jenny Stirling
September 19th 2007
Thanks George & Penelope- the Magnetic Times is a bastion of the free press if ever there was one.

Something rare and precious, which matches the magic Isle on which you live.

If you didn't exist I would have to imagine you!
peter morrison-conway
September 19th 2007
"Thank god your here".........Happy birthday Magnetic Times
Wendy Tubman
September 19th 2007
I write with very many fond memories of all those late nights/early mornings, and crazy dashes to the ferry with copy. It is a rare friendship that can survive the tension (and bad language - sorry George!) of such a hectic enterprise, so I am thrilled and honoured that our friendship survived. And so proud of being part of such a worthwhile activity. So a drink to us all from Fiji - where I still read MT! Thanks too to those who helped us so much at the beginning, while we learned the trade - they know who they are, but may wish to remain anonymous! - and all the long- and short-term columnists. I raise my glass to you all. Currently living under a post-coup military regime, I am increasingly aware of the paramount importance of a strong, free press - willing to ask the difficult questions and investigate the issues. Hope that MT will be doing that for many more years to come.

Keith Owens
September 20th 2007
Dear George & Pen,
If I May call you that shotened name but If George Chose You then you must be very Special! Well not having met you Pen it is great that you have both held M.Times on the Map or should I say the Island when things are changing all around us. so from down here in Hobart Tasmania We always look forward to every Edition of the Times on The Computer to keep us informed since we first met George in our Room at the Tropical Palms in 2004 when he wrote an article on us & have still got that photo on My Computer since that date so Congratulations For the Past 10 Years & may you both be looked after for as many years as you wish to Preserve the paper & Magnetic for years to come Betty & myself Love you bot HEAPS Keith & Betty Owens Happy Birthday 10 Years
Anne C
September 20th 2007
you've come a long way baby - ten years of great journalism contributing to island life and proving its hard to fold cyber paper. Congrats and thanks for being there.
Billy Ho
September 20th 2007
Hey well done Geo n Penny. MT is one of my regular reads here in NZ, even tho I've never been to Maggie. All the best for the next ten years.
September 20th 2007
Congratulations and wish you both, and Maggie Times, well for the next ten years and the ten after that! Keep up the good work of community communication and asking those hard questions when they need to be asked.
September 20th 2007
Started off as ratbags, ended up decade-ent. Congratulations Geo, Pen .... and Wendy.
September 20th 2007
Happy Birthday, Magnetic Times!
Yes, we did like holding the paper in our hot little hands - but we must all move on!
The Net Maggy Times, quite apart from permitting colour pics and the ability to check back on previous articles, is not causing the death of trees, or the expenditure of energy (except sweat of human brow and a minute amount, relatively, to run computers) in production or delivery. 32 pages x 1000+? print run = an awful lot of paper, not all of which would have been recycled, and a considerable quantity of ink.
Way to go, George! May Magnetic Times have many more birthdays!
Marie de M
September 20th 2007
Congrats George and Penn keep up the good work! Cheers, Marie de M
October 1st 2007
Happy birthday MT. Cant belive its been 10 years. Keep up the great work and hopefully you will be around for another 10.

Well done
November 18th 2007
MT is our Home Page! And has been ever since we left the Island and moved south to Canberra. We miss you all and MT is such a wonderful way to keep in touch with the comings and goings of the community we once called home and we still love. Congratulations George and Pen for keeping it going for 10 years, and may there be many many more years to come.

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