|This article relies on references to primary sources. (January 2010)|
|Editors||Casey Briggs, Stella Crawford, Holly Ritson|
|Company||Adelaide University Union|
On Dit is a student newspaper funded by the Adelaide University Union and advertising revenue which is published fortnightly during semester time. Founded in 1932, it is the third oldest student newspaper in Australia along with Semper Floreat (which was first published in the same year as On Dit). The paper replaced its precursor the Varsity Ragge which ran from 1928 to 1931 when it ended because of what On Dit described in its first edition as 'student apathy'. The Varsity Ragge returned in 1934 for a single edition as a rival to On Dit.
On Dit's title is French and has a number of different translations. These include "so I hear", "what the people are saying", "rumour", "one says", "they say", "we say", "people say", and "hearsay".
The last was a variation title of the newspaper in 1972 when due to French nuclear testing in the Pacific, the editors refused to use the paper's original French language title, opting for one of its English translations. Contrary to popular belief, the title is pronounced 'On Dee' rather than phonetically.
The newspaper began as a two-page broadsheet but within a few years quickly grew to four pages. The first editors were C.R. Badger (Arts), K.L. Litchfield (Law) and C.G. Kerr (Arts), who published the first edition on 15 April 1932. In its early years, On Dit focussed mainly on the activities and happenings of clubs and societies at the North Terrace campus of the University of Adelaide.
From the beginning, the newspaper attracted the ire of the university administration. Its very first editorial criticised certain regulations of the Barr Smith Library - criticism not well received at the time.
Interestingly, On Dit's editorial team in its fifth year of existence, Helen Wighton and Finlay Crisp, later married.
The paper ceased publication in 1941 due to World War II, but resumed again in 1944.
While the paper charged a low price to its readers in its first decades, it switched to free distribution in the 1960s and remains so to this day, supporting itself with advertising and funds from the AUU. In its early years it was an organ of the Student Representative Council, which later became the Students' Association of the University of Adelaide (a body which did not survive voluntary student unionism (VSU), and therefore has since been replaced by the Adelaide University Student Representative Council). Today, On Dit is a publication of the Adelaide University Union.
During the 1950s and 1960s the paper attempted to resemble a professionally designed newspaper. This evolved into the Dynasty era during the 1970s and 1980s. During the latter period, the paper broke major stories. By this time, On Dit had developed a very good reputation both within the state and nationally . On Dit was considered an alternative vehicle to attending media schools for budding reporters. One problem many editors struggled with was encouraging submissions and news from University of Adelaide campuses other than the North Terrace site.
In 2006, Edition 10 (Sexuality) of On Dit was stolen. It contained an article by 'Pandora' which gave a view on the upcoming Adelaide University Union elections that was largely favourable to some candidates while disdainful towards others (in one instance likening the then Adelaide University Union President to Lord of the Rings character Gollum, and labelling him a 'neo-fascist'). Several editions survived. The one held by the Barr Smith Library is available to read online.
For many years the paper was printed in a tabloid format on standard newsprint. This was changed to a magazine (half-tabloid newsprint) format early in 2006 to help the paper cope with financial uncertainty brought about by Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU). The other change caused by VSU was the paper going from a weekly to fortnightly publication, making Honi Soit the only weekly student publication in Australia.
Some issues of On Dit conform to a certain theme, reflected in the graphical style, and occasionally in the articles within it. One such yearly edition is entitled Elle Dit, written primarily or exclusively by women once a year. In more recent years the paper has better resembled other free street press, though with more artistic (or at any rate abstract) covers, usually eschewing headlines, and a focus more broadly on commentary, politics and pop culture than on the popular music common to the format.
On Dit is usually distributed outside the university in similar locations to other street press publications.
Prior to 2007, in a typical year there were two or three paid editors, elected by the student body the previous year, who planned the paper. The paid editors were assisted by unpaid sub-editors, columnists and other contributors who researched and wrote individual sections. On Dit is unusual among student papers in that for much of its existence it has remained independent of the prevailing political parties on campus. In 2007, the Student Union voted to remove salaries from the editors (by way of comparison, the 3 editors in 1997 split an annual A$30,000 between them). Because of Voluntary Student Unionism, the editors now have to secure some of their funding from advertising space, and the paper has gone from a weekly broadsheet to a smaller fortnightly magazine.
Prominent past editors
Prominent past editors include former South Australia State Premier the Hon. Dr John Bannon AO; Hon. Mr Justice Samuel J. Jacobs AO QC; Elliot Frank Johnston QC; author Garry Disher; former ALP state politician Peter Duncan (Australian politician); Rhodes Scholar, Diplomat & Ambassador Charles Robin Ashwin; former South Australian MLC and current Federal Senator Nick Xenophon; former vice-captain of the Australia women's national football (soccer) team Moya Dodd; former Secretary of the South Australian Trade Unions, Chris White; poet Max Harris AO; long-time Advertiser journalist Samela Harris and David Penberthy, current editor of The Punch and former Advertiser journalist and former editor of The Daily Telegraph in Sydney.
Many On Dit editors over the years have gone on to work for the local daily newspaper, the Advertiser. These have included Samantha Maiden, Colin G. Kerr, Mark Davis, Daniel Wills, Richard Ogier, David Mussared, Rosemary O'Grady, the Rev. Father Will Baynes and David Walker. Editor Noel Lindblom went on to work at the other local daily paper The News while Clementine Ford became a columnist for the Sunday Mail and writer for The Punch. Other On Dit editors to go on and work in the media have included Nonee Walsh and Roy Leaney at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Gemma Clark at radio station Nova 91.9 FM and Rosemary O'Grady and Michael Jacobs at The Adelaide Review.
A number of editors have found success in the education sector as educationists and academics. These have included educator and feminist Helen Crisp (née Wighton); historian Hon. Dr. John Bannon AO; educationist Neile Osman; Rhodes Scholar Herbert W. Piper; Rhodes Scholar Professor John Finnis; Jeff Scott; Dr. Andrew Gleeson; Rhodes Scholar Professor Leslie Finlay Crisp; Adjunct Professor Richard Broinowski; Professor Pat Thomson PSM (at the time known as Lewicki); Paul Washington; Rhodes Scholar Professor Julian Disney AO, Clinical Associate Professor Jonathan Gillis; Dr Daniele Viliunas; Professor Peter Otto; and Research Fellow Dr Jacqui Dibden.
Prominent people who have contributed to or written for On Dit include Prime Minister Julia Gillard, South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young; South Australian Labor Party Senator and Minister Penny Wong; Australian author and historian Geoffrey Dutton; comedians Francis Greenslade and Shaun Micallef; novelists Colin Thiele and Sean Williams (author); South Australian Democrat Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja; former ALP Federal Minister Gordon Bilney; playwright Joe Penhall; The Australian Financial Review film critic Peter Crayford, and former Federal Liberal Minister Christopher Pyne. Australian Labor Party Senator Anne McEwen contributed to On Dit in the area of administration when she worked for the Students' Association of the University of Adelaide.
Many former On Dit editors, contributors and staff have also gone on to work for the Fairfax Media group. These have included John Sandeman, Moya Dodd, Gilbert Wahlquist, Tim Dodd, Annabel Crabb, John Slee, Peter White and John Tanner.
Other On Dit contributors and staff to go on and work in the media have included Keith Conlon from Radio Station 5AA and journalists Jane Willcox, Barry Hailstone, Farah Farouque, Mike Duffy, Jenny Turner and cartoonist Ross Bateup. Former women's columnist Arna Eyers-White and freight manager Alex Wheaton went on to manage and edit Adelaide's fortnightly street press paper dB Magazine.
On Dit today
On Dit's publication is supported by advertising, with additional costs being covered by the Adelaide University Union. The current editors are Casey Briggs, Stella Crawford and Holly Ritson.
- "On Dit page". on AUU Website
- )"Semper Floreat page". on UQ Union Website
- "On Dit". Issue 1 (pdf)
- "Varsity Ragge". hdl:2440/39485. - Adelaide University archives
- "on-dit". The Collins French-English Dictionary. 11th Edition. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "Adelaide University archives".
- The Lower Level: A Discursive History of the Adelaide University Union by Margaret M Finnis, (1975), p 142
- "On Dit". Issue 1 Vol 1 (pdf)
- The Lower Level: A Discursive History of the Adelaide University Union by Margaret M Finnis, (1975), page 144
- "On Dit". Barr Smith Library Catalogue
- "National Library record".
- "AUU Website homepage".
- "On Dit". Vol 74 No 11, page 28 (pdf)
- "'Serf Choices Edition'"., Vol 74 No 11
- "Gemma Clark".
- "REVISITING ‘AUSTRALIA FELIX’". - Adelaide Review
- "On Dit". Vol 74 No 11
- "Burma article from 1992".
- Walker, Jamie (28 June 2008). "From brash Young Liberal to Senate linchpin for Nick Xenophon". The Australian., by Jamie Walker, The Australian, 28 June 2008
- "David Penberthy Bio". on The Punch website
- "Interview with Shaun Micallef".
- On Dit Website
- On Dit Page on the AUU Site
- Barr Smith Library scanned electronic issues of On Dit available as online facsimiles
- Barr Smith Library 2007 Exhibition on graphical changes to On Dit over its 75 year existence