Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What this is all about

Classie Corner not only recognises the huge role of classified advertising in newspaper and online publishing but also emphasises its importance to the everyday lives of countless readers.
The foundation of Classie Corner was in regional Australia on the New South Wales mid north coast in 1980. I have written the column in Queensland in five "generations" since 1996.
The following story from the APN News and Media journal in spring 2001 has some of the history and philosophy…

AN artist showed journalist John Rumney to "look for beauty where you don't expect to find it".
The "hot-metal veteran" realised that a whole world of human networks had existed right under his nose -- in what he now terms "the marvellous community of classified advertising".
The artist found ironies of everday life in streets and public places; Rumney says he started on an adventure into people's hopes, dreams, successes, failures, wins, losses, loves, hates
"Journalists are regular visitors to 'the classies' but usually stay only briefly and take with them a small bite from the rich fabric of a community that exists past the more obvious social, economic and to an extent geograhical boundaries.
"Once I understood that the classified advertising pages, freely available to any reader, represented a window on a different world and a special opportunity to write about private lives of people in my society, I felt obliged to take some action
"I had visited the world of the Classies for a quarter of century as a newsgatherer before I really started knocking on doors and getting down to business," Rumney said in his home office [in Queensland, Australia].
He is venturing into the columns that he compares with the streets of any community, "prestige homes with triple-car garages at one end and bush humpies with lean-tos at the other.
"Journalists are prone to take from the classies what they want then turn their backs on what they deem is not newsworthy.
"The nature of news is that a significant event, perhaps a disaster, crime, sickness, political change or whatevever‚ gives journalists a reason to talk to people about their lives and to write their personal histories.
"My approach is based on taking away the need for such a 'signifÎicant event'. At the least, someone needs only to show some influence of classified advertising on the lives for me to write about them, and record something that would never have been documented."
Rumney writes a column, Classie Corner, for nine APN, dailies after introducing the concept to a community paper 21 years ago but he says his link with "the classies" goes back further.
"My parents put a birth notice in the paper for me," he said. "I bought my first bicycle from the classies, my first guitar, my first block of land, my first house.
"I love going to the advertised garage sales on Saturday. I always check the 'wanted to buy' column in case someone is offering a fortune for something I have.
"It is quite extraordinary how the classies reflect hugely important things in people's lives. I always say the Classifieds have a maternity hospital, a mortuary and everything between.
"I have got work from the classies‚ and found out about things that affect my life. I have mourned my loved ones.
"I am lucky and privileged to have a special place in it. I have used the slogan, 'Come on, let's have a cuppa' but now focus more on 'meet the great people'."
Rumney says the classies have offered lots of fun for him and readers. "One woman brought up one of the essential questions of newspaper readership.
"Does sitting down with coffee or tea enhance the experience of absorbing all that information about your world, or is it vice versa.
That is something I could think about all day, if not for the demands of quick and accurate reporting 'from the front line' of a significant frontier."

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