You get the gist by now, surely.

For newcomers though, here’s the deal. Crikey turned 15 a few weeks go, a milestone of which we are very proud, and to celebrate we’re cherishing every single year with a special timeline of what happened to Crikey, to the world and to the media in that year. We were founded in 2000 and are now up to 2004 — and that, we can assure you, was a momentous year indeed.

A large part of Crikey’s early success was due to the inimitable Hillary Bray, our now departed pseudonymous political gossip columnist named for a James Bond character. Bray scandalised and tantalised Crikey readers with juicy morsels from Canberra and various state administrations. There were numerous attempts to guess Bray’s identity– including a 2001 feature by then-Australian media writer Sandra Lee. Despite her best attempts Lee was unsuccessful — it took until 2004 for Bray’s true identity to be revealed. It happened, eventually, on Bray’s own terms. Bray came clean to The Age’s Sussan Brown in an exclusive and startlingly honest interview, revealing “herself” to be former Lib staffer Christian Kerr.

Kerr would continue to write for Crikey for another four years, but under his own name, before leaving for The Australian. Pseudonyms such as Bray’s were common in Crikey’s early years, but would fall by the wayside in a mark of what founder Stephen Mayne has described as the “professionalisation” of the publication over the years. Apart, of course, from Ms Tips, who while being very professional keeps her name out of it.

In other Crikey news from 2004, we published a list of all the Melbourne gangland murders up to that point. And in late December Mayne batted away the first rumours that Crikey was for sale. “There’s no secret that I’m talking to investors but no deal has been done, it’s as simple as that,” he told The Age, which correctly identified current Crikey chairman Eric Beecher as the most likely buyer. The report closed on a snide remark about how Beecher was always railing on about newspaper classifieds being vulnerable to the internet. “It is a claim he has been making for some years,” the report noted dryly. Guess that argument was eventually settled.

Read the fourth entry in our Media Revolution timeline (and add your comments) here.

Peter Fray

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