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Crikey subscribers and supporters poured into the Imperial Hotel last week for the second Crikey Media AGM and a good time was had by all, including all those wearing Steve Price name tags.

We took $1880 for the night which covered our expenses and also delivered 50 new subscriptions or resubscriptions, bringing out subscriber numbers up to about 920 at the moment.

Guests all wore spoof name tags such as “Peter Beattie: Media Tart”, or “Felicity Kennett: Share Trader”. This worked well because more than half of the guests did not know anyone else at the function.

Litigation corner proved very popular as subscribers took the opportunity to look at the legal threats and writs that came our way over the year. Guests made themselves comfortable sitting on the lovely throw rug that the dynamic couple of Gina Schoff and Will Houghton, QC, gave Paula and I for our wedding last year. They are now acting for Steve Price in both the defamation and contempt matters before separate judges in the Victorian Supreme Court.

Former National Australia Bank finance director Bruce McComish, now a consultant to Corrs Chambers Westgarth, showed up. Earlier in the day at a luncheon talk at The Australia Club, Bruce claimed never to have heard of [email protected],au so we don’t think he was the spy from Steve Price’s camp.

Anway, we’ve had terrific feedback from everyone who came along and were pleasantly surprised by the numbers such that we’ll be putting on a similar gig in Sydney on February 28 at a venue yet to be determined.

This is a heavily edited and expanded version of the speech given by Stephen Mayne at the second Crikey AGM held at the Imperial Hotel in Melbourne on Valentine’s Day.

A year on and we’re still here

“Welcome to the second Crikey AGM everybody. Well, who would have thought that we’d still be going today. Since we launched 12 months dotcoms such as zietgeist, priceline, BigFatRadio, Libertyone , Maxis and a host of others have gone under. But we’re still going.

We had no revenue forecast so it is fare to say we dramatically outperformed forecasts with revenues of $20,000 so far. We’re pretty happy with that but the wives wouldn’t agree. Revenues are expected to be $49,999 for the current financial year so we’re yet to do our first BAS statement and will be just under the $50,000 threshhold for small businesses and the GST. We’ll be doing our first BAS just as Kim Beazley introduces annual returns.

In our first year we had two defamation writs, about 500,000 page views of 500 different stories from 60 different authors about 30 of whom used pseudonyms to protect their identity. This totalled 500,000 words over 40 editions.

We got out the video of our launch here at the Imperial Hotel last year and were amused to hear me tell the assembled guest: “Advertising is part of the plan”. Yes, well, we took $200 in advertising in our first year, but we hear Fairfax’s Express only managed $2000 in its first week so it ain’t easy. We’re expecting exponential growth in advertising this year, especially after cracking 20,000 page views in each of the past two weeks. With a fantastic demographic of readers, advertisers should be emailing us in their droves because we still can’t afford an agency that gouges a 30 per cent commission.

We are highly admired by the people we write about. The top 10 people who hate us the most in Australia would be as follows: Frank Lowy, Kerry Packer, Steve Price, Col Allan, Jeff Kennett, Alan Jones, John Laws, Graham Richardson, John Elliott, John Singleton,

During the year we were sued for defamation by Tony Webster and Steve Price and both cases are still going but not yet near a trial. Graham Richardson apparently took legal advice but was told not to bother. Ash Long, Raymond Hoser, ICAC Commissioner Irene Moss, Rehame boss Peter Humbleby, Senator Brett Mason, Adelaide journos Greg Kelton and Huw Morgan, News Ltd journos Madonna King and Amanda Meade all went to the trouble of sending threatening legal letters which are available for inspection in litigation corner over here to the right.

Some subscribers were censored regularly from receiving our emails because of the occasional swear word. These groups include: casey.vic.gov.au, jbwere.com.au, austar.com.au, propertyoz.com.au

Traditionally at an AGM the chairman quotes some authority no-one has ever heard of heaping praise on you so here goes: Well known magazine Internet.au gave Crikey a 5 star rating and said the following:

“Crikey gives you the inside information on corruption – shonky deals, stupid political decisions and the insanity that plagues modern corporate business. Crikey’s creators can smell a rat a mile off and expose fraud, deception and moral bankruptcy with satirical genius. You won’t know whether to laugh, cry or get mad as hell.”

But it is not all good as the quotes on the walls would suggest. Kerry Packer asked: “are you deliberately offensive or does it just come naturally?”. Westfield billionaire Frank Lowy said we “write a very good fiction story” and Stephen Bartholomeusz said: we were egotistical, money hungry, attention seeking trouble makers. The Fin Review said we were “ratbags” and Kate Askew in the SMH even managed to claim we rode roughshod over the interests of shareholder when David Jones chairman Dick Warburton went on The 7.30 Report that evening praising the questions.

Moving along to more important matters, there are a few important people to thank. Firstly, our Gadget man Con has done a terrific job. He was there at the start with www.Jeffed.com, was a groomsman at our recent wedding and has taken off the rest of the year for Crikey. The archive is up and running, and Con has also registered Crikey.tv and bought all the necessary gear to get this kick-started. We really appreciate all his efforts as Crikey would not exist without Con.

A special thanks also to Dad, who is still over there at the door getting $30 out of anyone coming tonight. Dad, who turns 74 this week, has come out of retirement to be the Crikey tee-shirt distributor and also checks the post box each day and does all the banking. It is fair to say he injects a bit of financial discipline and reality into the operation and we appreciate it very much.

Now to the two women in our lives: Hillary, you’re here somewhere. Thanks for an amazing year. You’ve really made Crikey and should take out the Columnist of the Year Quill from the Melbourne Press Club next month. Sorry it’s only $50 a week for your great column at this stage but we’re working on it and hopefully a very high renewal percentage will enable us to increase that.

And a big thanks to Mrs Crikey, Paula, who has to live with the ups and downs of Crikey. Paula has been wholly supportive and it is great fun running a cheeky website from our home. Expect a slight lull in the content come August when baby Crikey comes along.

Finally, thanks to all of you for coming. We have an amazingly good quality list of subscribers about 80 of whom are here tonight. Unfortunately, we can’t reveal names, hence the celebrity labels you’re wearing, but we’re up to about 900 and the quality is terrific.

There is a real sense of fraternity amongst subscribers. 12 turned up to a pub night in Sydney recently, 10 came out to the Bilia Hawthorn free Volvo day last Saturday and now 80 of you have come along tonight.

It is interesting reading the stats on how you heard about us. The largest category is radio with 120, followed by friends 110, newspapers 95, word of mouth 74 and online 55. Just to prove we’re not major spammers, only 12 people ticked the “you emailed me” box.

We love getting your emails. Yoursay is the most popular section on the site when we update and the quality is right up there in what is essentially a regulated chat room.

It is worth reflecting once again on the Crikey philosophy that has been on the site since day one:

“Crikey will point out theft, corruption, deception and collusion whenever and where it can. It is our self appointed task to take a long thin spike to the bloated egos of political and corporate Australia and to take clear black and white snap shots of the men and women who have their fingers in the till or who simply get paid too much for doing shoddy work. We will at all times try to have fun, respect the laws of our country in as far as they makes sense and to fill the gaps the Australian media seem unable or unwilling to fulfil.”

That pretty much sums up what we’re about and leads into the question of what is happening this year.

I’ll be standing for the Axa board tomorrow and will definitely be a single digit finish with the French sitting on 51 per cent.

With Melbourne IT having taken 3 months so far to register the domain name for this political party, I have a good mind of running for their board in May. Other possibilities on the list for board tilts this year include Macquarie Bank, WMC, News Corp, Southern Cross Broadcasting and Fairfax just to name a few.

As The Age reported today, we’ll be having a crack at the Melbourne City Council in June. Having lived almost 10 years in Mayor Costigan’s ward, it is one a serial candidate can’t pass up.

We’re also very keen to try and get up a demutualisation campaign for the RACV. Their indulgant $150 million head office in Burke St is the last straw. Give the money to the members, don’t build monuments for yourself.

Lastly, we’ll have a crack at the Senate in all states as an anti-Hanson force. So as you can see, it should be a pretty cruisy year.

Now for a few tough questions before we break for drink and come back for second part of the evening which relates to that (blank, censored, removed, cut out).

ends

Finally, let’s check out some of the feedback.

Emails to Crikey after the AGM

Crikey,

Thanks for 1st year bash. It was a true delight to be meet all those business & society luminaries – I personally enjoyed brief encounters with Diamond-(less) Joe, the Walkering bagman & several Prices-not-rightes. All up a ripper evening. Great to see that Crikey support is growing. We deserve/need the satire and scrutiny that you & your contributors offer.

Just one question – why ‘Crikey’? Why not ‘Blowtorch’ or ‘Headlights’

Regards, Jodie Packer: Gold Digger

Well here I was. Was my breathlessness pure exhilaration or simply the walk up the hill from the Richmond tram? I push through the door to the desk. Attractive lady bouncer dressed in standard issue funeral black. Cheque made out to Crikey media (is that for two or more Crikey mediums?). T-shirt yes. Books no. Another bloody form to fill in. Give a password which is case sensitive. OK. In fact case sensitive was the theme of the night. Get a name tag. I could fill in my own or use one of the witty Crikey ones. I choose Dr Stupid because I’m into kickbacks from multinationals. Or have I got the wrong Dr? who cares.

I tumbled down to the lower room. Several small groups talking uncomfortably. Several individuals looking awkward. The whole thing looking like a Leunig cartoon from 20 years ago. Grab a red vino. Not toooo bad. Start up a conversation. Journo lass says Crikey has the whole town talking. Crikey later says Crikey has the whole town suing. How did I get to find out about Crikey? Sheer bad luck I guess. Shit happens. Bearded man says it’s good to see a journo with courage and integrity. Yep. Sure is. But once below a time there used to be a ton of them. Perhaps it was a defective gene that led them to extinction. Perhaps the climate for truth got ruined by the hole in the money layer. Another red. Starting to feel the warm.

Time drifts onwards. Nearing 6.30. Some food is starting to come. What’s happening? Why are we here? Surely they have collected all the door money by now (an obviously significant priority). Then the Mayne event. In two parts. First the AGM. The report of the start-up. Then the half-Price saga- initimations of a possible demise. We were told that because there were no financial projections, they had obviously been exceeded by an infinite amount making Crikey the best financial performance of the year. Last years advertising revenue was confidently expected to be surpassed. Crikey is lurching towards black ink. All is well for next year. More board nominations. Lord mayor. Senate. Prime Minister (Ed: er, not quite). Perhaps even a tilt at the big one. Carpe diem indeed. At this stage, I noticed across the room a vision of loveliness in black. Flashing eyes. Yea floating black hair. Bare midriff so that when she laughed, her navel danced like a tinkerbell on x. Fascinating. But I’m no Peter Pan. Pity.

A gap before Paul Keating gave us a half-Price character analysis. And a state of the nation report about the court cases. There seemed a lot. And it did seem to preoccupy a lot of Crikeys energy. But perhaps that’s part of shutting up a dissident voice. Did we have any ridiculously difficult questions we wanted to ask. Who is Hilary? Pass, but she’s here tonight. What will happen at year-end when there are only Labor Governments in Australia? Hilary plays best off the forehand but she has a strong backhand. How do you make ends meet? Marry well, get myself a good lawyer, eat healthily and pray. Unfortunately no one asks the primary question – Why do you do it?

And so to another glass of red. A piece of cold pizza. Why does he do it? If he becomes profitable, he’s worth suing – unlike now. Will all the energy and obvious enthusiasm of the group dissipate? If he succeeds in his upwardly mobile ambitions will he make a difference? The point, after all, is not to report on the world but to change it. Dunno. The evening was pleasant and even stimulating. The cause worthwhile supporting. The company pleasant. But I got the air of the old Nation Review. Talent preoccupied by process not goals. But I may be leaping to occlusions. Thanks for the update Crikey. Keep up the good work.

John K

Hey Crikey,

Thanks for last night, I had a great night.

I subscribed last night, paid my money, got a T and a book and had a few beers on you (as you suggested to do), but didn’t fill out any forms, etc to give you my details. Therefore, I cannot receive the much-talked-about Crikey subscriber email…….

Anyhow, this is my email address, any other details, apart from bank details (but I wouldn’t get too excited about that anyway, I work for Telstra afterall) I am more than happy to forward on.

Keep it up, someone’s gottoo….

Cheers, Adrienne.

Steve

Thanks for the invite to the “AGM” – certainly an eclectic collection of would-be idealists/realists/anarchists !! I enjoyed the chats with Hannibal (name ???) / the attractive (French??) freelance journo and the dudded Liberal Member (name???). Found her interesting. I’m sure we could have ended up in substantial philosophical deabte (aka argument) had we remained together much longer !! Then, again…..

Now for the real reason for the email …..(censored).

Your former cricket captain, TH

Peter Fray

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