Sydney and Melbourne won’t have two daily newspapers in 10 years’ time, says Crikey founder Stephen Mayne, and could be lucky to have one. “Print is heading on an inexorable spiral to death,” he says.
He’s more optimistic about the state of online journalism though, saying that advertising dollars are moving online, and along with transaction-based journalism, niche sites have a future. He also points to companies like Fairfax, which are investing heavily in their real estate arms to attract property advertising.
As part of Crikey‘s 15th birthday celebrations, we sat down with Mayne at his home, the website’s last bunker before the site was sold to Private Media in 2005. Speaking about Crikey‘s best moments and the challenges of starting the site, he also says that Crikey‘s strength lies in its diverse range of contributors and its unique distribution model, which has continued even as the site has advanced and expanded.
“I think the prevalence of the email distribution [sets Crikey apart], so most others are doing a sort of summary of the website, whereas our primary content is in the email … people still like that fact that it’s pushed content, it hits you in the eye when it arrives in the email, and it’s been doing that for 15 years, so I think that’s the secret to Crikey‘s success.”
“I still think it’s got the best email list in Australia, it’s read by the power-brokers.”
Mayne says he is proud of Crikey‘s place in the media landscape and what it contributes to “diversity and accountability and transparency in the Australian media market”. Mayne says that he didn’t know it would last so long when the website started. “Fifteen years is an eternity in internet years, so there’s very few internet-only publications anywhere in the world that have been around for 15 years, so at that level I think it’s quite amazing.”