the argus.

The Argus in its early stages (1930s).

For the past month of my internship in Melbourne Central, I have been captivating by a particular building on the corner of Queen Street and La Trobe. Unlike the rest of this city square, the structure has obviously seen many, many days. It’s probably seen better ones, too.

Every week, I have noticed more and more vandalism on the abandoned building, watching it fall away into a sorry sight for those rushing in and out of the station from across the road. Most people would barely stop to notice it’s even there, or acknowledge, perhaps, it’s obvious age. I’m probably guilty of this too, but I constantly find myself fascinated by heritage sites in the city, especially ones that have to do with the art of Journalism.

The crumbling building is called the Argus, and I have found, through little research that it was the very home of newspapers in Melbourne in the 1900s. Constructed in 1926, the Argus became the hub of The Argus--the city’s Daily. After the last issue in 1956, the Argus closed its doors on the Journalism industry. So, out went the 411 and the “read all about it!”s, but the structure remained.

The abandoned building now stands miserably on the corner of the street, surrounded by Melbourne’s infamous ugly architecture. It has also been victim to copious amounts of graffiti, and looking at it can become an eye-sore–which is exactly what the property developers want; it’s easy enough to tear down a building when it looks so horrible that people will drop to their knees to have it rid of.

The Argus now.

Walking out of work on Tuesday afternoon, I found myself in conversation with a fellow intern editor, who brought up the Argus and her devastation in regard to its current health and its decline. Initially, I found it ironic that she, too, had been struck by the fascination in the building’s appearance and history. As we walked down La Trobe to Melbourne Central Station, she continued to tell me about her research into the abandoned site and I found myself unconsciously hoping that some sort of heritage-loving, history-obssessed company had bought out the Argus, just to protect it from harm. I was half given relief; the Argus has been purchased by La Trobe University, in hopes to extend their CBD campus. I’m still unconvinced that this beautiful structure and historical symbol will escape the confines of human torture.

What’s more is that I am horribly disturbed and unsettled by the fact that this building is one that a newspaper industry had once considered its Headquarters. I think back to how many times I envision myself working in a print media organisation and know now, especially after recent weeks and many FairFax/News Ltd announcements, that the chances are looking more and more slim. I can’t help but think of the Argus building now and face the music–is it a symbol for the death of the print industry?

 

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