The Herald Sun has banned any mention of Crikey for two years but editor-in-chief Peter Blunden still tries to maintain this is not the case. Let’s examine the facts.

Over the past 26 months we’ve cracked The International Herald Tribune, The Drudge Report, The New York Times, the BBC and Fortune Magazine but we’ve only once warranted a mention in the Herald Sun. We did a quick search of “Crikey and Mayne” throught the News Ltd and Fairfax archives and came up with the following numbers of mentions in the same story:

The Age 22

The Australian: 20

Sydney Morning Herald: 16

The Sunday Age: 9

Courier Mail: 6

Daily Telegraph 6

Financial Review: 5

Newcastle Herald: 3

Illawarra Mercury: 1

Sydney Sun Herald: 1

Crikey’s two biggest enemies in editor land remain Peter Blunden and Fairfax Business Publications boss Michael Gill so it comes as no surprise that the mentions search came up with a big donut from the Herald Sun and also from Michael Gill’s specialist magazines BRW, Personal Investment and Shares.

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Now don’t any of you Blunden and Gill apologists try to argue that they are editors who judge news on its merits. These two blokes indulgently let personal grudges get in the way of news and should be hauled into line by their bosses. I thought the Fin Review and the Herald Sun were pathetic during the last state election by largely ignoring the allegations I was carrying about Jeff Kennett on the jeffed.com site. I was a former Kennett insider who published 40,000 words on Jeff Kennett in the last two elections yet my name and the name of the website did not once appear in the Herald Sun over this period. Despite this ban, Jeffed still got 115,000 downloads over that time.

When I ran for Melbourne Lord mayor last year the Herald Sun could not ignore it but Blunden sent out an edict that the word “Crikey” never appear. Pathetic stuff really but maybe we should start a game to see how we can break Blunden’s Crikey drought short of donning the Crikey suit and massacring a few people.

Any suggestions? Or maybe you could just email blundenp@heraldsun.com.au and ask him to justify the ban.

A couple of subscribers have done this and the responses from Blunden have been interesting:

One subscriber David simply asked Blunden “why are you so scared of Crikey?”, which elicited a very brief “I’m not” from Blunden.

David then wrote:

“I see. So you’ll mention crikey soon eh?”

This prompted a longer reply from Blunden as follows:

“The day he comes up with something newsworthy, I’ll consider it like the many hundreds of other stories we consider each day.

And why are you pushing his barrow? He’s the one with the vendetta against me (and many others), not the other way around.

Have you asked him whether I gave him a fair deal at the Herald Sun, and helped him at the Daily Tele? Then have a look at how many times he has pursued me, personally and professionally. I’m fair game, but don’t need to promote his website without reason.

Ps I expect this correspondence to remain with its recipient.

Another subscriber and lawyer Peter asked Blunden the following:

“Stephen Mayne contends that there exists censorship of his name/activities in your paper. Is this true?”

Blunden’s one word response was “no”.

The history of Blunden and Crikey

Peter Blunden is one of these tribally loyal News Ltd editors who is incredibly thin-skinned and cannot take criticism.

His argument is that because he helped me at News Ltd, I owe him loyalty and should not criticise him.

Let’s deal with the question of his help first. Blunden arrived at the Herald Sun in late January 1996, 19 months AFTER I’d been appointed Business Editor by then editor Alan Oakley and editor-in-chief Steve Harris.

I tried to resign in June 1997 but Blunden instead offered me 18 months leave without pay. In October 1997 I came back from a three month trip to the UK in time for the Four Corners story on Jeff Kennett’s share dealing which I was the prime on-air talent for. Blunden underplayed the yarn (page 2 lead compared with front page splash in The Age) and failed to take an editorial stance on it despite the fact that I was supposedly a favoured son on staff.

After this I transferred to The Daily Telegraph as business editor and this gig was more lined up by outgoing Tele biz ed Michael Yiannakis and Terry McCrann, than Blunden.

I finally gave up on Blunden when the Herald Sun became ridiculously sycophantic towards Jeff Kennett leading into the state election.

When Crikey announced plans to run against Kennett in his seat of Burwood at the 1999 election, Blunden gave it only a brief run compared with The Australian and The Age.

Having taken a huge professional risk and then received stuff up loyalty from the loyalty-obsessed Blunden, the gloves came off on Jeffed.com and then Blunden instituted his irresponsible ban.

No favours for anyone who abuses power with media bans

Blunden claims Crikey has run a vendetta against him and we presume this is referring to the fact that we reproduced his seven editiorials calling for his readers to vote Liberals. There have been no such Labor editorials so I labelled him the most biased mainsteam editor in the country and stand by this assessment.

Mentioning that Blunden had taken up with his secretary Anna Brodie is supposedly another part of the vendetta when this was a completely out in the open relationship and we did it on “do unto others” grounds after Blunden put Dick Pratt and his lover all over the front page of the Herald Sun.

What happens next

Crikey has no great problem being banned by Blunden but does think it is an abuse of power. As a media critic we will fight any editor who puts personal views ahead of news and we will turn up the pressure until there is clear evidence that the ban has been lifted. For instance, when covering the Steve Price defamation matter, Blunden made the paper only refer to Crikey as “a Melbourne website”. How childish is that. It actually deliberately doesn’t tell readers a basic fact about a story. Isn’t news all about presenting the facts.

Anyway, if Blunden wants to continue this, I’m going to don the seven foot Crikey foam suit and start handing out flyers outside the Herald Sun’s Southgate office. And if that doesn’t work I’m going to lodge a formal complaint with the Press Council. If that fails as well, I’ll run for the News Corp board at the October AGM on a platform that calls for News Ltd editors to handle their power responsibly. It’s in your hands Peter.

ends

After publishing this piece, a couple of things have happened so read on:

UPDATE SENT TO SUBSCRIBER ON MAY 2

Crikey got two runs in the media yesterday and they could not have been more diametrically opposed After sending a spiteful off the record email to Crikey on Tuesday, Herald Sun editor-in-chief Peter Blunden followed up with this item in yesterday’s Herald Sun Eye gossip column under the headline: “What’s the fuss about?”

By Peter Blunden

“So Stephen Mayne (right), the former Herald Sun journo (yes, we admit it) and primo conspiracy theorist, is in such a flap about not making news in this paper that he is orchestrating a campaign demanding his inclusion.

Mmmm. Weird, really. If he likes the paper that much, why did he leave? It’s not as though he doesn’t have his own private little forum (his own website) to peddle his thoughts on the wicked world, but clearly he’s seeking a wider audience.

Anyway, to prove that he is not banned, here’s a pic of the man himself, from his website and, from what we understand, unenhanced, digitally speaking.

The big question is: can we leave him alone now? Please?”

The photo in question was of me pulling a stupid face whilst being photographed with the biggest Logies nuff nuff we could find at Crown at 2am on Monday morning. Naturally, this context is not explained and Blunden has simply taken the opportunity to publish a goofy photo (and breach our copyright) that is designed to cause maximum embarrassment.

You can see the photo here

I’ve added this text to the site piece about Blunden’s ban on Crikey just under where the photo appears:

“(Before you go on, Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden has plucked this photo of me with the stupid smile taking the p**s out of this nuff nuff and run it in the Herald Sun’s gossip column today without explaining the context and trying to pretend his paper doesn’t ban Crikey. But poor old Pete has once again perpetuated the ban by failing to name the website.)”

The most amusing thing about this is that Blunden has continued his ban on mentioning www.crikey.com.au, the only ban that has ever been in place. A search of the Herald Sun archive reveals 40 stories that mention “Stephen Mayne” since September 1999 as even Blunden cannot fail to mention the name of political candidates in his paper. But there are zero mentions of “Mayne and Crikey” and only one mention of “crikey.com.au”.

Contrast that with The Australian which has mentioned “Stephen Mayne” 112 times, “crikey.com” 11 times, “crikey.com.au” 30 times and “www.crikey.com.au” 6 times.

Since quitting the Fin Review in September 1999 and announcing plans to stand against Jeff Kennett, The Age has mentioned “Stephen Mayne” 112 times and “crikey.com.au” 32 times.

Over the same period The Sydney Morning Herald has mentioned “Stephen Mayne” 40 times and “crikey.com.au” or “crikey.com” 20 times.

Relations have at times been rocky with The Daily Telegraph but in 30 months they’ve mentioned “Stephen Mayne” 30 times, “crikey.com” 3 times and “crikey.com.au” 8 times.

How Blunden can deny there is a Crikey ban on the strength of this evidence is beyond us.

If you’ve got a view to express about this to Blunden you can reach him at blundenp@heraldsun.com,au and why not CC Rupert by clicking here.

You might point out that I’ll be standing for the News Corp board this October if the childish Crikey ban remains in place and that Blunden has deliberately breached our copyright in publishing a photograph from our banned website which is then republished to 1 million people completely out of context and designed to expose me to public ridicule.

Crikey, maybe I should sick the lawyers onto him about this.