A taste of the Fairfax future. There have been brief occasions over the years that the Canberra Times has been a paper with pretensions of being something more than a humble provincial daily and when your chief local industry is the government of the country even local stories can have a national flavour. Not any more as I discovered when I bought Wednesday’s paper to check the restaurant review in the good food lift out. The Canberra Times has become very provincial indeed and does not even attempt a serious coverage of federal politics.

Page one on Wednesday had five stories, at least all written by staff journalists, but every one of them was about parish pump issues of local government, shopping and sport. On pages two, three, four and five local ACT news predominated with 14 of 18 stories staff written and the others from AAP. From then onwards the newsagencies dominated the space. Leaving aside a page of editorials and letters to the editor there were only 4 of 19 stories not agency copy with the exception of a Canberra version of a gossip column.

Sporting coverage was similarly left to the news agencies — four pieces of their own and 16 from the agencies.

The only semi serious local content in the whole paper turned out to be the lift out food and wine guide so I guess I got what I was after but that just reinforced the impression that a paper devoid of ads has very little going for it.

A taste for Thai. We are well into the hundreds of replies now to our little favourite restaurant survey and if some of you slow coaches will just do the right thing we are going to end up with an intriguing Crikey guide to places to eat. And from what I have seen so far there will surely be a fair number of Thai restaurants on the list. Spice seems to be very popular with our readers. You will find the short survey here which asks you to nominate your favourite everyday and favourite big night out eating places.

Going for a winner. Rupert Murdoch broke the habits of a life time in the last US presidential election when he did not swing his media empire whole heartedly behind the man who looked the likely winner. The troops stuck loyally to the Republican cause even when the Democrat Barack Obama started forging ahead in the opinion polls months before polling day. Perhaps it just shows that the lunatics at Fox Television really are in charge of the asylum and even the old master cannot control them.

Whatever the reason for that aberration of supporting a loser, things are returning to normal in the United Kingdom where 12 years of support for the Labour Party has dramatically come to an end.

The timing of the London Sun’s page one declaration was impeccably timed to steal Gordon Brown’s thunder as he made his address to his Party’s national conference in Brighton. I particularly liked the way the Guardian this morning describes the two versions of a conversation between News International’s British boss Rebekah Brooks and Labour Cabinet Minister Lord Mandelson: