Feature

Local journo breaks with news

NEW LEAF: Lismore knitting nanna against gas Jennie Dell at home.
NEW LEAF: Lismore knitting nanna against gas Jennie Dell at home.

SINCE 1975, Jennie Dell has been a constant presence in the Northern Rivers media firmament.

This week she retires from the Northern Rivers Echo, the paper she was founding editor of in 1991, to devote more time to her family and gain the freedom to express herself politically.

"One of the reasons I am retiring is to join the Knitting Nannas Against Gas, to take part in demonstrations and to be free to express my very strong views against coal seam gas mining," Jennie said.

"I was at Terania Creek (protests in 1979) and at Mount Nardi saving the Nightcap National Park forests and I see the real necessity for a huge demonstration of people power to move the CSG issue into the courts and into the parliament."

Her journalism career began in 1967 in England at the height of the swinging sixties when she worked at the Guardian as a holiday relief editorial assistant.

She later worked as a distributor for the controversial OZ magazine, which was the subject of a celebrated obscenity trial in 1971.

"My job was to drive around London in a Kombi van to collect half a dozen hippies with beads and bells, the hippier looking the better, drive them out of London and sell the magazine on the street," Ms Dell said.

"One Saturday morning on The King's Road in Chelsea I sold a copy of OZ to Mick Jagger."

In 1974 she migrated here with her first husband, son Josh and daughter Bonnie, settling in Nimbin in 1975.

"Nimbin at that time was exactly what we envisaged. The Aquarius Festival had taken place in 1973 and it was a really strong tribal community full of art and music.

"There are a few places on the planet that are like the Northern Rivers and it's something that exploded at the same time all around the world."

Throughout her life and career, music and the arts have been a powerful force for Ms Dell.

"Art nourishes the soul... it's a very important part of being human."

She believes music connects all the various social movements on the North Coast.

This weekend she is delivering Ash Grunwald and Xavier Rudd to the anti CSG pop up concert at a secret location near Doubtful Creek.

Jennie has been associated with The Northern Star on and off since 1986, eventually returning in 2008 as a journalist and editor of Weekend.

Then after a trip to England in 2011 she settled back at the Northern Rivers Echo.

"I was always a provincial girl.

"I love living in a small community where if I am writing for that newspaper people are going to see me in the street, they will know who I am and I can stand behind what I write.

"I feel privileged to be a journalist and carry on a tradition that began in 19th Century Fleet Street and now in the 21st century watching the gradual demise of the newspaper.

"I am not resisting the changes at all, it's fascinating to see it morphing into something completely new..

"I don't think my grand-daughter will ever buy a newspaper, but she will always read the news."

Topics:  csg, journalism, northern rivers



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