This is an edited version containing about 60 per cent of the latest fortnightly life members update that goes to those generous 65 people who have stumped up $500 to keep Crikey afloat.

Dear 65 Crikey life members,

It just never seems to stop here in the Crikey bunker. It’s been bedlam as usual but everything seems to be ticking over quite nicely.

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND TRAFFIC

Well, it’s been as busy as ever but we certainly won’t break the record (withheld) in revenue taken in July. At this stage the August figure will probably come in at around (withheld) as we’ve taken about $20,000 so far. It is the life member category that has slowed the most since July.

As usual, the money has just poured out so there’s only about $3000 in available funds at the moment and we’re probably going to cop another $10,000 in taxes by the end of October so we really should try to put something away while the times are good.

Paying subscriptions have been coming in steadily at about 70 a week and we’re now up to 4200 although we renewed the freebie offer for people with .edu.au addresses and this swelled our numbers by about 100 over the past week.

Despite fixing our technical problems, our renewal rates remains dreadfully low at about 30 per cent although quite a few people who drop off come back as new subscribers a few weeks later.

The traffic has come back from the peaks of July and we’re very pleased to have consolidated above 90,000 page views a week which means we’ve doubled our traffic in three months.

The recent weekly figures are as follows:

Week to Thursday Aug 8: 94,436 page views by 32,862 unique users.

Week to Thursday Aug 15: 93,061 page views by 33,054 unique users

Week to Thursday Aug 22: 90,723 page views by 31,555 unique users

ADVERTISING

We’ll be calling for banner ad bids for September next week but will be pleased to match the $2052 raised in August.

The email ad is starting to sell a little better now that we’re hitting more than 10,000 inboxes each day. So as life members entitled to an email ad, if you have not taken up your entitlement yet please get in touch with [email protected]. One of the best initiatives we’ve introduced this year has been the Alertees category where visitors to the site can register to receive free email updates. I send them about half of 4 sealed sections a week and try to cut them off at an interesting story to encourage them to sign up. This is effectively a free trial system and has worked very well judging by the numbers of people who have unsubscribed from it after signing up for the real thing.

LEGAL UPDATE

We’ve had a development in the Nick Bolkus defamation case but unfortunately I can’t tell you the specifics of what has happened. However, we have had to terminate the services of our lawyers due to a conflict of interest so if you know of anyone who could act pro bono for us, please get in touch.

There was a directions hearing in the matter last Friday and the Judge gave us an additional 7 days to complete our affidavit of documents before the next court mention on September 5.

Unfortunately, I’ll miss that 7 day deadline due to the sudden emergence of this untenable conflict. We’ve advertised for new lawyers but nothing has been finalised yet.

RUNNING FOR ELECTION: RACV AND CAL

The nomination for the RACV board has been accepted and we’ll be cranking this one up over the next two months. The chairman gave a very detailed briefing this week and I’m against two competent insiders and three other external candidates chasing the two vacancies in the road service category.

However, the argument remains compelling. Why should the RACV Club with its 18,000 members have 9 board seats when the 1.2 million road service members have created all the wealth yet only have 6 board seats. Amazingly, this year will see the first contested election for the two RACV Club board seats since 1973.

Despite there being two distinct election categories, the board acts as one cohesive group and so far there has been no examination of the legal entitlements as to who owns the $600 million net worth tied up in what is now Australia’s biggest mutual.

Directors were unpaid up until 7 years ago but now it has become a trough with all 15 non-executive directors collecting $36,000 a year and a lump sum payout of $120,000 when they retire if they serve two terms.

COPYRIGHT AGENCY LTD

The board tilt that is probably more important is the Copyright Agency Ltd which I’ve nominated for. CAL collects copyright payments and distributes them to publishers, journalists and authors but the board is dominated by big publishers so we’re looking to break the stranglehold. SMH columnist Anne Davies is another outside candidate trying to break in. This is the spiel that Hugo Kelly and I knocked up at very short notice this week to go out to CAL’s members. Unfortunately, the RACV doesn’t allow such a platform to be distributed:

500 WORD SPIEL SUPPORTING CAL TILT

Withheld

GOOD WEEKEND

It seems that people who come in to the Crikey story cold felt it painted a pretty dark image but those in the know who follow Crikey or work in the media feel it was reasonable.

I’m sticking with my line that it was tough but fair, although he should have quoted perhaps one or two people saying something positive.

The profile keeps coming up when I give talks as was the case this week with some journalism students at Berwick and the Carlton branch of the ALP. You just can’t get a bigger piece of exposure in print than the cover of Good Weekend because it runs in Sydney and Melbourne on the biggest selling day of the week and has 1.9 million readers.

There should be a few letters in tomorrow’s Good Weekend and they’ll probably split down the middle.

A Labor Party member told me this week they spoke to Garry about the piece and he said a number of people had called him saying it was unfair and he was a little concerned by this reaction as he thought it was balanced.

THE HOWARD BOOK

withheld

REWORKING THE SYSTEMS

Our Gadget man has built virtually everything that we’re running Crikey on but we’ve reached a size now where things are maxing out. The archive was out of action for a couple of weeks but is back in play now, albeit without the search function and without any material after April this year.

We removed the sealed sections from the archive last year when Steve Price’s lawyers kept digging damaging comments out and using them against us.

However, even just putting new stories from the website into the archive requires a manual process but we’ve got some hired help coming around to the bunker 3 days a week at the moment so we’ll get to this some time in September.

We’ve been fortunate that the charity service group OurCommunity has lined up 5 final year information systems students from Melbourne University to each work about 5-10 hours a week on Crikey for the next 13 weeks. We’ve earmarked them to completely build and deliver a customer management system so hopefully this will turn out to be a godsend. So far things look promising.

CHASING REHAME AND PRICEY’S LAWYERS

We ran a campaign against Adrian Anderson’s tilt at the Melbourne Press Club committee on the grounds that anyone who represented Steve Price in his vicious action against Crikey should not be on the Press Club committee.

Whilst we failed to stop him getting re-elected, it is amusing that the lad was passed over for a partnership at Corrs Chambers Westgarth on July 1.

And Will Houghton QC, the man who came to our wedding cocktails and recommended many of Pricey’s hardball tactics, has decided not to run for the Bar Council committee this year.

Houghton was marginally voted on two years ago and then was voted off by a thin margin last year and we were ready to run a campaign against his election this year only to see that he is not putting his name forward.

Meanwhile, we’re also about to hit Rehame with a legal letter demanding payment for the use of our material. Rehame produced a couple of large affidavits for Price’s legal assault against us which clearly show they have been archiving and on-selling our material.

Rehame is a licensee of CAL so we’re looking forward to hearing what they’ve got to say for themselves.

PAULA’S WORKLOAD

Paula has taken over the administration of Crikey since July 1 and she hasn’t walked out yet. Con’s brother is working two days a week on admin and another friend of Paula’s is spending Friday working with her. Baby Laura is spending each Friday in the creche around the corner and just loves it so we really are trying to free up more time to get the shambolic organisational wing of Crikey into shape.

LOOKING FOR NEW DIGS

We’ve just bought a new computer and now have three work stations at the Crikey bunker but we really need to expand that to about 6 so we can get some students around to help and maybe even run the operation 24/7.

Therefore, we’ve decided to try and find a three bedroom house or apartment nearby and turn the current ideally located and spacious South Melbourne bunker into a dedicated Crikey operation.

The rent here costs $425 a week and we can probably afford to rent somewhere else for $400 a week which will be another $20,000 overhead but the operational benefit should more than cover this cost.

CLAIM YOUR ENTITLEMENTS

By Paula Piccinini

Hello lifers, I’m sitting here waiting for your emails so that you can claim all your benefits.

Many of you have not used your entitlement to that 150 word email ad so far and please let me know if you are not receiving Private Eye.

Lifers are also welcome to pop around to the bunker for a coffee some time so feel free to give us a call on withheld.

Bye for now, Paula

That’s all folks. Will email you again in a fortnight.

Stephen

Become a life member

Life members get a fabulous deal out of Crikey. For $500 you are entitled to the following:

* A 1000 year subscription to Crikey.

* a year’s subscription to Private Eye worth $96.

* A $150 email ad that goes to more than 10,000 people.

* A free annual Crikey subscription for two friends worth $132.

* A collector’s item Crikey tee-shirt.

* Amazingly open and frank fortnightly emails about how we are going.

* invitations to Crikey life member functions.

We’ve currently got 65 life members and we are only selling 100 at the bargain basement price of $500 to contact [email protected] while there are still some available.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW