Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, the Aussie political kvetch homepage Crikey apparently stands alone.
[W]ith an average of just 12,000 page impressions per week and about 3,000 unique users, [Stephen] Mayne’s one-year-old site – it specializes in media and political gossip, plus business info – has the highest profile of any lone-wolf operation in Australia. “We are the best-known independent Web site out there,” he says. “There isn’t anyone else. We’re it.”
Mayne isn’t bragging. Actually, he’s disgusted. “There’s a total reluctance by journalists in Australia to get online and run their own show,” he says. "Nobody wants to leave the established mainstream press. There’s no Drudge here. Even individual industries don’t have anti-sites, like Overlawyered.com and PRWatch.com in the States. There’s nothing.”
What’s wrong with those damn Australians? Why can’t they get with the program and act like Americans, issuing Web sites like dandelions going to seed?
Maybe Australians just aren’t fans of electronic media. The Aussies aren’t all that big on TV. Cable television is not exactly widespread, and over-the-air channels are relatively few (and, as in Canada, dominated by American shows). Radio stations? They’re about as varied as what you’re stuck with in the Maritimes. Our antipodean friends have a more literary culture, except the preferred literary form is the magazine. (The evidence is anecdotal. We’re waiting for numbers from Magazine Publishers of Australia, which, as if proving our thesis, has no Web site. Three articles to read: First; second; third.)
Australians buy magazines by the armload, and largely eschew subscriptions. Big cities also offer U.K.-style newspaper variants; you actually hear the term “quality newspaper” used as a differentiator (with “broadsheet” as a value-neutral synonym).
“But,” you sputter, “wouldn’t online newspapers and magazines do the trick for these pesky, far-off hedonists? Wouldn’t that finally force them to get with the program, adopt the American way, and stop pretending to be a separate culture with indigenous tastes frustratingly resistant to the just and proper way of thinking?” Well, no. Apparently the Australians emphasize online in “online newspaper” (something of a turnoff for them), and see less of the magazine in “online magazine” than the New York media demimonde would prefer.
(From the article above: “ ‘Australians use the Net to find information and services – not opinions and commentary,’ says [a] Sydney freelance [hack]. ‘There’s a mental block about using new technology as a forum in the contemporary political and cultural debate, and I don’t quite understand why that is.’ ”)
Further, NUblog readers in the land of sunshine, melanoma, and Alex Dimitriades inform us that the entire Internet industry is years behind the American jetset. So maybe Mayne ought not to be surprised to be the tall reed in the field. Not surprised. Proud.
Damn you, Aussies! Next you’re going to want out of ANZUS.
Posted on 2001-03-17