On February 14, 2000, the following Valentine’s message appeared in The Age:

Dear Crikey Boys, love what you’re doing and keen to buy it! Sorry we can’t make it tonight. Rupert and Kerry

“Tonight” was the $6,000 Crikey launch function eight years ago today for 150 people at Melbourne’s Imperial Hotel, opposite Parliament House.

Unsurprisingly, the Murdoch and Packer families haven’t enjoyed much of our efforts over the years, a tradition very much maintained by the fiercely independent current proprietors, Eric Beecher and Di Gribble.

A lot has happened over that the past eight years, but the one constant has been the steady growth of our little ezine and its feisty independence from big media, big politics and big business.

With the biggest and best Australian email list – 14,000 subscribers and 34,500 squatters – the Crikey of 2008 is a far superior offering to what the National Archive records of our efforts as early as March 2000.

Whilst Crikey used to be a lost dogs home for brilliant but flawed (drunks, misfits, the sacked, unemployable moral arbiters and even Noel Crichton-Browne) anonymous contributors, these days it’s the place to be with a large stable of contributors clamouring to make the cut each day.

Two days after we launched, Graeme Leech wrote the following about Christian Kerr’s first anonymous Hillary Bray column in The Australian’s then Melba column:

Hillary’s first effort offers sparse pickings. Most of the column is devoted to kicking the Fairfax press, sneering at Democrat Natasha Stott de Spoja and finding contradictions in Tony Abbott’s utterings. Easy targets, all of them. Melba concludes the nom de keyboard is a pathetic device to make Hillary (teasingly described as either a former or current Coalition staffer) appear mysterious and alluring. But he/she just sounds like another bored Canberra hack/hackette.

Rather than getting derided, out talent is now in demand. Oh the irony that Hillary, aka Christian Kerr, has just been poached by The Australian.

We’ll miss him all right, but the beauty of Crikey today is the breadth of its contributors. It has become the great aggregator of Australian media, hoovering up the latest and best on Australian politics, media and business in a well-packaged lunch-time serve.

It wouldn’t be Crikey’s birthday without a good document falling off the back of a truck.

The AFR’s Neil Chenoweth produced a fascinating feature in today’s paper on the forthcoming $US1 billion trial against News Corp’s NDS division for alleged smart card piracy. Go here for a package of the sensational court documents which must be causing Rupert some sleepless nights.

Finally, happy birthday to the Crikey Army and thanks so much for supporting us over the years. Australia’s media is more concentrated than ever before and we need your support to keep growing.

Disclosure: the author has a book deal with News Corp’s Harper Collins division but remains independent.