Serious Fairfax readers show the way. As I have been looking through the websites these last few weeks preparing the Crikey morning media wrap I have noticed things getting more serious at the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age. For years the web versions of the two broadsheets used to bare so little resemblance to what appeared in the print versions that I had taken to calling them the broadloids. Then in the last couple of months the Fairfax strategy seemed to change with the more serious offerings of the papers given prominence over the light weight puff offerings that appeal to readers of the proper tabloids.

So it was not really a surprise this morning to find that the story of Utegate topped the most read list of both The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Both have given excellent and comprehensive coverage to this fascinating yarn without having any obvious barrow to push like The Australian where for days they were almost willing the Prime Minister to be caught out. Some justice this morning then that in the national daily it was the Qantas jet in the dark on turbulence risk that led the way with Malcolm Turnbull’s fake email nightmare in second place.

Sydney Telegraph readers were attracted to the tale of the NSW girl pregnant at age 12 while up north at the Courier Mail they were intrigued by the story from down south in Hobart where a robber who demanded cash from a service station in Tasmania was told by the attendant: “You need a weapon.” In Hobart itself Mercury readers were fascinated by the tale of the Clarence footballer who flashed his penis during a live television broadcast.

At the Melbourne Herald Sun and the Adelaide Advertiser a version of the Utegate story did top the most read list but on the omnibus site it was the tragic tale of the mum who died after donating a kidney to save her daughter’s life who had caught the most attention of readers.

Over in Perth the subject fascinating readers of the West Australian was a look inside the new headquarters of the Finks bikie gang.

And what conclusion can we reach from this little survey? Probably that the story of Utegate is not proving as fascinating to most Australians as it is to the political junkies who determine what news should appear on page one of our newspapers and lead the way on the television news bulletins. Malcolm Turnbull can at least be pleased about that.

Waiting for the pollsters. I’m sure it will not be long before the pollsters are out and about giving us a verdict on the political impact of the Utegate business but here’s a little bit of something to feed poll addicts in the meantime. The media websites all seem to be running a version of the very unscientific vox pop ‘what do you think’ type polls and these were the findings around midday.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph should be thanked by Liberal Leader Malcolm Turnbull for at least phrasing its question in a way that gave him a chance of looking like a winner. The Tele has 56% of voters believing that Messrs Rudd and Swan acted improperly.

Not much for the Opposition Leader to like though about the verdict in his home town’s posh paper with 77% of respondents to a Sydney Morning Herald poll rating his ute gate performance as woeful.

In the Melbourne Age the question was slightly different but the answer very much the same with 82% of people reckoning the Opposition Leader had shown poor judgment.

On the ABC website there are two polls to vote on with the ABC’s unleashed asking whether Malcolm Turnbull should resign over the OzCar fake email affair? and 52% of people saying yes.

A smaller poll on the News Radio site had 67.6% declaring that Malcolm Turnbull did not have the character to occupy the highest office.

The Courier Mail’s variation gave its readers three options with more people believing Rudd and Swan over ute gate than Turnbull although there was a sizeable minority opting for not believing any of them.

Better news for the Turnbull camp down south with Herald Sun voters giving him the credibility nod over the PM.

Who will be the mud stick to is what the Adelaide Advertiser is trying to determine and the Opposition Leader is clearly looking like the biggest loser although Wayne Swan gets quite a dishonourable mention.

The Australian inquired of its readers whether they thought the fake email had derailed the Turnbull attack.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey