By Ella McEwan
“This paper is like the Bible; it means everything.”
Neos Kosmos is an institution for Melbourne’s Greek community. The 62-year-old publication is one of the largest Greek Australian newspapers in the country, and even has a significant international readership. As the paper moves from strength to strength, we look at how it began and what its future holds.
‘In order to survive, any media organisation… has to adapt’
Dimitris Gogos. Source: Neos Kosmos.
Neos Kosmos has a rich history. Founded by 26 year old Dimitris Gogos after his purchase of Greek communist paper Afstraloellinas in 1957, Neos Kosmos was an integral part of Greek migrant life in Melbourne after the Second World War. Gogos himself had migrated to Melbourne seven years earlier, and the paper’s title fittingly translates to “New World”. The paper cemented itself as a major national title in the Greek community and grew quickly. “The first few years were very radical in supporting the needs of the migrants: employment, equality, services to them. And then we started to cover other issues like maintaining our culture, the needs of the elderly and even lifestyle,” Editor in Chief Sotiris Hatzimanolis told the Melbourne Press Club.
Sotiris Hatzimanolis at his desk
In 1974, as the Greek community grew, Gogos realised the paper needed to change to reflect the needs of younger Greek Australians. He added an English insert. “We wanted second and third generations to have a paper to talk to them,” Hatzimanolis explained. The next big change was the launch of an English edition in 2011 under the stewardship of Gogos’ son, Christopher. The new edition catered to Greek Australians who predominantly spoke English. The contemporary Neos Kosmos website reflects yet another shift, with a modern aesthetic and content ranging from features to hard news. The paper’s website is a glowing example of how newsrooms can effectively stay up to date and pull in a new audience.
Mary Sinanidis in the Neos Kosmos newsroom
English edition editor Mary Sinanidis recalls the paper always being part of her life. “I myself grew up in an immigrant family with my parents having Neos Kosmos on their table,” she said. “When I lived in Greece, I was working there in the local media and I still kept in touch with what was going on in this country from there.” She added “I’ve always read it, so obviously that shows no matter where you are, you can always read Neos Kosmos and enjoy it and get something out of it.”
Sinanidis discusses how English edition stories are chosen.
Power and Influence
Neos Kosmos’ longevity can be attributed to its strong connection to Melbourne’s Greek heritage. “We know who is influential who reads us,” Advisor for Digital Marketing Fotis Kapetopolous said. “If you’re a premier or a prime minister there’ll be someone in your office making sure you know what Neos Kosmos is writing.” “We know that while SBS may be scrambling to talk openly to the treasurer, he’ll talk to us, because he knows he wants the Greeks onside. That’s what we carry with us.”
George Miller (George Miliotis) wasn't taking questions... until he saw Neos Kosmos. The paper's power to “break that barrier”, as Kapetopolous describes it, makes access to politicians and celebrities much easier.
Historically, Neos Kosmos has been an important campaigner on multicultural policy and issues. “The founding father of this newspaper was critical in pushing the Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating governments … And then locking Howard into multiculturalism. Regardless of all the advocacy that not-for-profits may do around the place, that doesn’t work without Il Globo, Neos Kosmos and the Jewish News.” That multicultural paper alliance remains strong. When Neos Kosmos got wind of a plan to change the name of Melbourne’s Immigration Museum the paper sprung into action, concerned the museum would move away from its aim of exploring the experiences of migrants in Australia. “We put the pressure on, and then corralled Il Globo, the Australian Jewish News, African Australian media, Chinese media [and] Indian media. They all got on it, [and the] Immigration Museum is no longer changing its name.”
“We’re far, far more powerful than the mainstream media assumes we are.”
Neos Kosmos caters not only to the more than 45,000 Greeks living in Melbourne, but also an international audience of Greeks and Greek-Australian expats. According to Neos Kosmos’ internal research, 30 per cent of the paper’s readers live overseas. This affects which stories they decide to report. “We’re read a lot in Greece, and the [United] States and other countries, so we also try and have a few stories that would interest the diaspora in general,” Sinanidis said. Greek Australians who return to Greece are a large part of the paper’s readership, as are young Greeks either coming to Australia for the first time or looking to keep up with their cultural heritage.
‘We’re all Greek; that’s what we agree on’
With the aid of internal research, Kapetopolous has a strong grip on Neos Kosmos’ readership. He suggests the core readership is made up of well-educated Greek Australians with progressive views working in a variety of professions. Outside that core readership is an older audience with diverse politics, as well as a younger Greek migrant audience. “Some younger people predominantly are shifting more to the right and others are shifting more to the left, and they’re not shifting to the right and the left because of Greek issues, but partly as a reflection of their parents’ and grandparents’ positioning, so we have to be very careful with how we position ourselves within that,” Kapetopolous said. The paper’s editors work to ensure Neos Kosmos captures this diversity of political views. “Overall we still maintain a centrist left, progressive perspective on social issues,” Kapetopolous said. “We’re all Greek. That we agree on.”
Knowledge of who makes up their online readership means the paper can also cater for new audiences, as they have in the past. When writing, Kosmos journalists craft stories that reflect the interests of the Australian Greek community. Writers further target subsections of their readership through choosing whether to run a story in Greek or English, giving them an edge on the competition.
Fotis Kapetopolous in the Neos Kosmos news room
Mary Sinanidis thinks Neos Kosmos will continue to serve and advocate for the Greek community in Australia and abroad long into the future. Discussing the paper’s role in helping recently migrated families and fundraising after devastating fires in Greece, Sinanidis said “Neos Kosmos means helping and being part of the community. It’s not just a newspaper that reports, it’s also a newspaper that wants to facilitate change.”
For many, including Sotiris, Neos Kosmos holds even greater meaning. “This paper is like the Bible; it means everything,” he said.