CSIRO revives SA’s only popular science mag

Cosmos Magazine has been taken over by the CSIRO after funding challenges and staff redundancies affected the Adelaide-based publication earlier this year.

Jun 17, 2024, updated Jun 18, 2024
Cosmos was first published in 2005 and was acquired by RiAus in 2018. They've published over 100 magazines. Photo: Cosmos Magazine

Cosmos was first published in 2005 and was acquired by RiAus in 2018. They've published over 100 magazines. Photo: Cosmos Magazine

CSIRO Publishing announced on Friday that it was the new publisher of Australian popular science magazine Cosmos, effective immediately.

It comes after charity organisation the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) struggled to secure funding, telling InDaily in April the June issue of Cosmos could have been its last. 

CSIRO acquired Cosmos’ quarterly print magazine, digital science news service, RiAus’ education unit and SCINEMA, an International Science Film Festival for the next year, while it explores long-term options for the publication’s sustainability. 

$500,000 in funding from the South Australian Government, along with funding from CSIRO and the federal government supported Cosmos’ move under the CSIRO umbrella. 

Science minister Susan Close said she was pleased they reached an agreement to support quality scientific journalism in Australia. 

“It is critical that our community can continue to access evidence-based news,” she said.

“The COVID pandemic, the challenge of climate change and the growth of the renewable energy sector are examples of the importance of timely, accurate and trustworthy reporting on scientific issues.

“This investment in Cosmos magazine – as well as its journalists, associated publications and educational resources – is an investment against misinformation.”

In February, five full-time Cosmos editorial staff took voluntary redundancies, which limited the capacity of the newsroom.

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A CSIRO spokesperson told InDaily that seven staff from Cosmos are moving to CSIRO, including three science journalists based in Adelaide, with one additional Adelaide-based science journalist joining Cosmos later this month.

The Cosmos newsroom will continue to be based in Adelaide at CSIRO’s Kintore Avenue site. 

CSIRO did not acquire the physical location of RiAus, which is the former Adelaide Stock Exchange building, a state heritage place.

RiAus will continue operations, working with its existing partnerships such as the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC), based in the Science Exchange building. There are no plans to vacate the building at this stage. 

RiAus executive director Will Berryman said Cosmos and science education resources are “big properties now, and they need a big home”. 

RiAus Chair Peter Yates – who also chairs AusSMC – said RiAus celebrate this new chapter for Cosmos and the education platforms.

“During the RiAus’ custodianship of Cosmos, our organisation has significantly grown the depth and reach of the digital offerings we make available to Australians daily,” he said.   

CSIRO Publishing is editorially independent and also publishes science books, peer-reviewed scientific journals, and the Double Helix science magazine for kids.  

CSIRO Science Connect Director Gail Fulton said Cosmos and CSIRO have a shared goal to grow trust and interest in science and develop the future’s STEM workforce. 

Cosmos will be a complementary but distinct addition to CSIRO’s publications and education offerings and will help connect the national science agency with more Australians across different channels,” Fulton said. 

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