The term 'crikey' is commonly used in Australia as an exclamation; however early in this century it has started to take on another meaning in political journalism circles and even within the general public.
This meaning stems from the rising popularity of the web site http://www.crikey.com.au, created by a political journalist from Melbourne, Stephen Mayne.
The philosophy of the Crikey team is as follows:
"Crikey will point out theft, corruption, deception and collusion whenever and where it can. It is our self-appointed task to take a long thin spike to the bloated egos of political, media and corporate Australia and to take clear black and white snap shots of the men and women who have their fingers in the till or who simply get paid too much for doing shoddy work.
We will at all times try to have fun, respect the laws of our country in as far as they make sense and to fill the gaps the Australian media seem unable or unwilling to fulfil."
In essence, what the Crikey team tries to do is to bring a measure of accountability to media groups, politicians and corporations in Australia; an accountability that is not being provided by current mainstream media.
Crikey's main task is sending out daily emails to over 4500 people who pay $66 AUD a year for them. These emails, written in a humourous vein, regularly scoop the mainstream media, who will not publish many stories for fear of being sued. Needless to say, Crikey has been facing litigation for it's stories almost since it started.
A measure of the particular heroism of Stephen Mayne is that he was actually forced to sell his house to pay for a defamation action by a radio announcer; however the standard and tone of his journalism has not dropped and still attracts outrage.
Representatives of the Crikey team can also regularly be seen at the Annual General Meetings of Australia's largest corporations, where they are renowned for asking questions about corporate accountability and highlighting details of company activities which companies would prefer their shareholders not know about.
Crikey's finest hour came in June 2002, when they released three leaked items from the Australian Democrats political party. Crikey's coverage of these items started a landslide of events in Australian politics, leading to Senator Meg Lees leaving the Democrats and leader Natasha Stott Despoja resigning.
Given that the Democrats hold the balance of power in the Australian Senate, it is easy to see just how important Crikey's journalism was in this case. Ultimately, Crikey's original story may have changed the face of Australian politics forever.
In conclusion, for anyone interested in Australian politics, Crikey is an essential read, and one of the few independent journalism resources left.