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October 15, 2018 | by  | in From the Archives |
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From the Archives

This is the last issue of Volume 81 of Salient. Volume 1 ran in 1938. That’s a really long time for any publication to exist, let alone a student mag that’s always been put together on the smell of an oily rag (there’s more money for student media in next year’s VUWSA budget though, so hey, cool, nice). And it’s actually the youngest student publication of the original four universities – Otago’s Critic Te Arohi, Auckland’s Craccum, and Canterbury’s Canta are all older.
The longevity of Salient, and all student media, is particularly interesting since everyone involved is a rotating cast. The shelf-life of a Salient editor is typically a year, two tops. Contributors might write for Salient for the time they’re at uni, and sometimes for a little longer once they’ve left. The readership moves along with the student body – every four years or so, there’s a totally different cohort of students clamouring, frenzied, to get their hands on those piping hot takes every Monday morning.

There are some consistencies though. Salient has always been put together by editorial staff with little formal training, getting paid far too little to do far too much. It has always relied on volunteer contributors, students with something to say having a crack at saying it, to fill the pages. It’s that amateur, irreverent spirit that gives Salient its charm. Some of the best writing I’ve read in the last few years has been in Salient. Some of the most half-baked reckons I’ve read in the last few years have also been in Salient. That’s student media, baby.
Salient has also been a consistent breeding ground for young journalistic talent. Some of New Zealand’s best journalists cut their teeth in the Salient offices. If you listen to Morning Report you’ve heard 1970s Salient contributor and technical editor Gyles Beckford deliver the business news, and you’ve heard 2010 Salient editor Sarah Robson in her role as Social Issues reporter. If you read The Spinoff, editor Toby Manhire’s editorial career peaked when he took the reins of Salient in 1997. If you read the Herald (and you should read the Herald, and you should definitely stop making tired jokes about how the Herald is bad, don’t @ me) you might have read the work of Simon Wilson (Salient editor, 1978) or Keith Ng (Salient news editor, 2004-2005).
Salient has broken some really important stories in and around campus this year. The design and illustrations have been fucking slick. There’s been heaps of fantastic feature writing and columns. It’s done the eighty years of history behind it proud.
If you don’t agree, if you think there’s something Salient could be doing better, remember that Salient lives and dies by the efforts of Vic students. Simon Wilson put it well in an editorial seeking contributors in 1978:

Salient will continue to take informed and critical stance towards the various issues facing students and people generally, and will often be the only media organ in the city prepared to do so. It will continue to provide a forum for debate on those issues. Is there a place for you on it?

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