If you are reading this and you are a Crikey subscriber, then pardon me for telling you what you already know: independent Australian-owned inquiry journalism is vital to our democracy — and should, when done right, spark joy in your life.
(Yup, we are to news what Marie Kondo is to the sock drawer.)
Crikey today celebrates its 20th anniversary. That’s quite an achievement given the forces set against it — and the state of the news media industry.
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So thank you very much for being a subscriber, if you are.
If you are taking a sample, then welcome. If you are wondering if you should stick around, please indulge me and read on for a bit.
In 2000, when Crikey started, Google was just two years old, Facebook four years away from springing forth from a college dorm, and Apple’s first iPhone seven years out from market. It was a different world.
The web had barely touched our lives; the idea of a political blog, saying things that many people thought but were often left unspoken, was revolutionary. And, in terms of news media, legacy mastheads and titles were still making heaps of money.
I remember saying to colleagues at the Sydney Morning Herald at the time something like: “Crikey is fun but it won’t last”. I was a bit arrogant.
We all know what happened next: nascent tech grew up and ate the news media’s revenues for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Legacy media couldn’t cut costs fast enough — and over ensuing years, several thousand journalists lost their jobs. There are now fewer reporters around to scrutinise the powerful.
It’s not all gloom and doom. Journalism is weakened but not disempowered. Far from it. Huge tech has come to a broad understanding that it needs — more to the point, that significant parts of its audience needs — quality news media.
But no genie is going back in the bottle here. The news media’s business model has changed forever. But, of course, several things haven’t:
- Politicians and people in authority still need to be held to account;
- Journalism needs to ask the awkward questions — and say what needs to be said;
- Australia needs an independent, Australian-owned news media.
I would love to claim that Crikey could do all this alone. It can’t. The news media needs to rebuild and re-imagine its ecosystem. But Crikey can do a lot of it with your support. Last year, we launched our investigative unit, Inq. You can catch-up with some of its recent work today.
Crikey runs a subscription-based model and we like it that way. We have a close relationship with our audience. We are independent of outside influences.
Every day we set out to be true to the idea of being fierce and independent, unflinching and forthright. That’s what propels our journalism and commentary.
We hope you like it. We know many of you already do.
If you are here for the first time — or returning — we’d love it if you gave us a chance to prove that 20 years on, Australia needs Crikey more than ever.
Please think about taking out a subscription. It would be a good way to celebrate our birthday and more to the point, ensure that Crikey is around to ask the hard questions and look under rocks for another 20 years.
Peter Fray is the editor-in-chief of Crikey and the managing editor of Private Media.