Elections are tough, competitive and uncompromising – and that’s just the media side of things.

The Queensland campaign, kicked off yesterday, looks like having an additional, and slightly unusual, edge to the media battle, with The Australian and The Courier-Mail going toe-to-toe. The Courier‘s move to tabloid a few months back opened up the Queensland market at the serious, traditionally broadsheet reading end of the newspaper market, and The Australian has pinned its ears back.

Since Chris Mitchell left the Courier to become editor-in-chief of The Australian he has taken a swag of Bowen Hills staff with him – with another round annouced recently – giving his paper a formidable Queensland bureau. Among the recent defectors were gun investigative reporter Hedley Thomas, senior writer Graham Lloyd and Canberra political reporter Matthew Franklin. They join Tony Koch, Sean Parnell and Paul Whittaker, to name just few to have left earlier.

The results are on show this morning with the national daily splashing on the election announcement and backing it up with around 16 other items of news, comment and editorial. Without doing an exact word count, the Courier is in danger of being swamped, both for quantity and quality, on its own patch.

The Australian‘s move makes sense at a couple of levels – if the Courier is losing readers, better to keep them in the News Ltd fold by having them come to the Australian rather than going to The SMH. It also gives The Oz a better chance of holding, perhaps even building its circulation, at a time when most papers are losing readers.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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