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Bridging two identities, always looking into the future

Neos Kosmos' editorial director, Nelly Skoufatoglou on how the newspaper helped her get a better grasp of her Greek Australian reality

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Editorial director, Nelly Skoufatoglou.

05 December 2017

Moving to Australia four years ago, little did I know about Neos Kosmos. Like many people my age, more so considering I did not grow up in Australia, Neos Kosmos was a newspaper for the old and kind of backward.

When I decided to take advantage of my Australian citizenship and see what the Southern Hemisphere had to offer, my main goal was to escape the crisis and the debt put on my family by finding a job, any job.

My disappointment in the media industry in Europe - bankruptcy upon bankruptcy and unpaid invoice upon unpaid invoice - had left me unwilling to pursue a career in journalism.

Yet, a couple of months after settling in Melbourne, more and more people came up to me suggesting I applied for a job at Neos Kosmos.

My extended family would religiously buy two copies of Thursday's Greek edition, sometimes Monday's too. Neos Kosmos would be laying on the coffee table, on the couch, and by the window. I started reading it. It wasn't long until one of my Australian-born cousins brought me a copy of Saturday's English edition, saying "There's this edition, too. Have a look. I think you will relate". And I did.

"It's been around for as long as I can remember. It's really important for the community and it's quite big," another cousin told me. "Things have evolved. It's got politics, events, community news, news from Greece; it will help you get a better grasp of our reality here."

After joining Neos Kosmos I found even more interesting facts about its history; facts that made me proud to be part of the "NK family" as we call it.

One of the founders and publishers of Neos Kosmos, Takis Gogos, father of current publisher and managing director Christopher Gogos, was part of the committee Bring Democracy to Greece, which worked hard to democratise Greece post-junta. At the time, that small leftist ethnic publication became the voice of Greeks abroad and a mediator, pushing politicians to fight for freedom of speech and human rights worldwide.

Gogos was also an active member and executive of the Greek Orthodox community of Melbourne and Victoria as well as the secretary of the Pan-Hellenic association Orpheus, which developed cultural events and services in support of newly settled Greek immigrants. His work led to the establishment of a Modern Greek Department at the University of Melbourne while he was a founding member of the Antipodes Festival.
His love and drive to engage with younger generations of Greek Australians while promoting all things culture and community led him to set the cornerstone in the ethnic media with a bold and, for some, controversial move.

Wanting to pave the way for the future of the Greek Australian community Neos Kosmos English was born over 40 years ago. With the inception of one English page fortnightly titled New Generation on 15 November 1976, moving with the times, the pages multiplied and the publication evolved from a supplement, to Saturday's bilingual edition as we know it today; ever adapting to the needs of its Australian community.

And what makes this revolutionary move even more significant, and me even more proud to be editing this publication, was Gogos' decision to put a woman at the helm of the supplement in a time where equality of the sexes was a subject better left unspoken. It was the vocal 25-year-old Philia Polites, a university graduate with a major in ethnic studies, who became the first editor of New Generation in the 70s. When she stepped down, Gogos continued to offer the editor's position to strong, clever women-representatives of the Greek Australian community.

"Initially the idea of the supplement was to address late high school and university graduates who had a Greek Australian conscience but were not able to master the Greek language," Neos Kosmos editor-in-chief Sotiris Hatzimanolis said.

"But many of the Greek-speaking members of the community were opposed to the idea of an English page. We received many complaints about the supplement even during the 80s because people saw it as the death of the Greek language in Australia. Today, however, those people encourage their kids to read the English edition because they find it a way to communicate with their kids about a number of issues outside the family. And, now it is a journalistic element supplement that other ethnic publications are trying to imitate."

And how true, when Neos Kosmos now has thousands of readers across the globe and across all generations to prove it.

For me, in the three and a half years I have spent with the NK family, Neos Kosmos has become a bridge, connecting me with both worlds that make me: the Greek and the Australian. Being able to dabble in two languages and stay in touch with the first generation of migrants whilst embracing younger audiences to re-connect them with their Hellenic heritage is precious. What is to come, however, is far more exciting.

Less than a month before we welcome 2018, Neos Kosmos is proud to celebrate its 60th anniversary, not idling but working relentlessly to step into the challenges the digital future holds, with another bold and forward-thinking step. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

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