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Australia's most outrageous newspaper -

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The Northern Territory News has become well known beyond the Territory's borders for its larger
than life front pages about UFOs and crocodiles. The paper has attracted many fans but also critics
who say that Darwin's daily newspaper should provide more serious reading.

Transcript

HEATHER EWART, PRESENTER: For years the Northern Territory News and its sister paper the Sunday
Territorian have dominated Darwin's newspaper market.

The NT News has also become known well beyond the Territory's borders for its larger-than-life
front pages about crocodiles and UFOs.

The colourful headlines have attracted fans and also critics who say Darwin's only daily should
provide more serious reading.

But the NT News argues it's giving readers what they want.

Sara Everingham reports.

NIGEL ADLAM, NORTHERN TERRITORY NEWS: It's bizarre and offbeat and a little bit wild and I think
that's great.

JULIAN RICCI, EDITOR, NORTHERN TERRITORY NEWS: Our job is definitely to present the news, but I
don't think it's written anywhere that we have to be boring when we do it.

SARA EVERINGHAM, REPORTER: It's not every day a newspaper is the subject of an art exhibition, but
tonight, the NT News is being celebrated as a Northern Territory cultural icon.

WOMAN: It's a terrifically entertaining kind of newspaper, especially the front page.

NIGEL ADLAM: Our front pages are often absolute classics that go around the world because they're
presented in not just a newsy way, but in an artistic way.

TONY RUTTER, DARWIN RESIDENT: The twilight zone section - UFOs, spacecraft, UFOs, space rockets,
'Seven UFOs Invaded Top End'.

SARA EVERINGHAM: For years, Darwin resident Tony Rutter has been collecting front page posters as
souvenirs of life in the Top End.

TONY RUTTER: The NT News hones in on a number of aspects of the Territory that - of Darwin and the
Top End in particular, that you don't find so much elsewhere.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The NT News first went to print in 1952 at the height of the Cold War when
Darwin's only newspaper was the union-run Northern Standard.

JULIE WELLS, DARWIN HISTORIAN: The Commonwealth was concerned at the time about the very strong
pro-Communist line which the Northern Standard was taking.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But within months of the Northern Territory News going to print, the Standard
folded and for decades the NT News has been the sole daily paper in Darwin. It started out as a
small-time paper, but was soon snapped up by an up-and-coming media proprietor called Rupert
Murdoch, who's retained control ever since.

In the early years, the NT News was synonymous with the activist editor Jim Bowditch, who seemed to
make headlines as often as he wrote them.

DAVID CARMENT, HISTORIAN: He was a great crusading editor. He took up particular causes. He was
very interested in, for example, pushing for the Northern Territory to have greater powers of
self-government.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Jim Bowditch took up causes both on and off the page. When three Malay pearl
divers faced deportation, he personally intervened in the story and helped hide the men from
authorities.

FRANK ALCORTA, FORMER JOURNALIST: That one was in the hands of the unions and I think he reflected
that. And the unions were very much left leaning. He reflected that as well. And on the whole, he
was very much a reflection of the Northern Territory at the time.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But after Darwin was struck by Cyclone Tracy, one of Australia's worst natural
disasters, a new era at the paper began.

FRANK ALCORTA: The paper took it as one of its causes to be involved in the rebuilding of Darwin,
and in the rebuilding of a new society there as we saw it.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Today, the front page is more likely to feature crocodiles than politics.

NIGEL ADLAM: 20 or 25 years ago, the newspaper took itself more seriously. We still take ourselves
seriously to a certain extent in that we run many of the so-called heavy stories. They're just not
on the front page.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The long-time NT News journalist Nigel Adlam says the newspaper is now more in
touch with its readers than ever.

But some argue the newspaper is clinging to an outdated image of Darwin.

WARREN SNOWDON, LABOR: It's a sophisticated city. It's still raw in many ways, but a sophisticated
city with a sophisticated, intelligent population who like to do some serious reading. So I think
it's lifted its game somewhat, but I think there's a bit to go in terms of providing informed
discussion in the newspaper.

NIGEL ADLAM: I wouldn't be so pompous and pretentious as to say Northern Territory News is a
newspaper of record. It doesn't try to be. But it's still a very Northern Territory product, and
we're quite proud of that.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Like it or not, the NT News is now part of the cultural fabric of the Northern
Territory.

TONY RUTTER: I hope the newspaper itself continues to provide that kind of local thought, local
theme, for some time.

HEATHER EWART: Sara Everingham reporting from the Top End.