Here's a tale of two polls, and the Australian media's reaction to both.

The first is the US elections, the second is the looming change of leadership in China which is arguably of greater importance to Australia. One tells us where, in the Asian Century and the media's carping about the government's white paper, the local media sees the easy yards; the coverage of the other tells us where the media doesn't see easy gains for itself. Nowhere is this choice more starkly illustrated than at the national broadcaster.

There's nothing like a US presidential race to get Australian journos tugging at the bit (and at the bean counters' tight reins) in an effort to cross the Pacific. The campaign leading up to the first November Tuesday every four years is a big deal, a chance to get close to the candidates and even stand near the future president of the world's most important country at a time when security is much lighter than after the poll for the winner. "War stories" can last an entire career.