Crikey founder Stephen Mayne
weighs in to the debate about our ezine’s blokiness

Crikey has long had a readership that skews to blokes but I suspect it is not much different from the gender breakdown faced by the likes of The Fin Review and Insiders. Blokes tend to be more interested in business and politics than women and blokes also tend to dominate the media, as this list of young editors attests.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue to be addressed. You might have already worked this out but it is a fact that Crikey had never had a regular female contributor until our fabulous Finland correspondent Therese Catanzariti emerged last year.

We never rejected copy from women, it’s just that the key paid contributors who emerged over the years – Christian Kerr, Hugo Kelly, Glenn Dyer, Ross Stapleton, Charles Richardson, Neal Woolrich, Justin McMurray etc – were blokes. Even the unpaid contributors such as Noel Turnbull, Noel Crichton-Browne, Greg Barns, Jeffrey Wall and Cameron Weston tended to all be blokes.

However, it wasn’t a women-free zone. The old Mrs Crikey Paula Piccinini was running the business for the past two years and Kate Jackson also injected a woman’s perspective into much of Crikey’s content since joining us full-time in November 2002.

It actually doesn’t really matter who contributes to Crikey, it’s what they write that counts and on this score we have nothing to be ashamed of. For instance, Paula received dozens of supportive emails when she wrote this piece asking where were the women in the abortion debate.

We have gone in hard against sexist pigs such as Sam Newman and sports stars who treat women poorly such as Shane Warne and some of the Canterbury Bulldogs players. Ross Stapleton was even nominated for a good Ernie award 2003 for what Meredith Burgmann described as “his admirable story on Shane Warne and David Hookes”. The Ernies are for the worst acts of sexist or blokey commentary in the media.

The next question is whether we ever unfairly attacked women. Sure, a campaign was run against Natasha Stott Despoja and this did feature prominently in the survey when we asked subscribers what was our least edifying moment. However, the Democrats leadership crisis was cited by just as many subcribers as our finest moment.

Crikey has been accused of being anti all sorts of things over the years – anti-Israel, anti-union, anti-Green, anti-Howard, anti-gay, anti-American. Neville Wran best summed up the reality when he told a Labor campaign launch in 2003 – “Crikey is a great little website because they have a go at everyone.”

If you consider who were the major targets of Crikey campaigns over the years, the overwhelming majority were men. The likes of Alan Jones, Eddie McGuire, Steve Price, the Murdochs and the Packers are some of the names that spring to mind.

At the end of the day, Crikey has evolved into an operation that features lots of blokes sledging each other. Look at the history of warfare. Blokes like to fight and we’re an electronic form of Wrestlemania. It could have been done a little differently and some more female commentators would have been good but I don’t think there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Feedback to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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