The Stickler Weekly Insights 201 – Changing Times

The Australian newspaper, owned by News Corp, publishes The Times cryptic crossword almost five weeks after it appears in the UK. The crossword has a good reputation, and many resettled English solvers and their families enjoy having it published locally. The truth is, though, The Times crossword suits very few home-grown Australian solvers as there are so many parochial references and UK-only terms and abbreviations. The Australian has saved money for years by republishing The Times cryptic (also owned by News Corp), robbing Australian setters of the chance to produce cryptics that are actually relevant to the vast majority of Australian cryptic crossword solvers. The internet has long since negated the need for The Times cryptic to appear in The Australian, as everyone with internet access can not only get it online, but access it directly from The Times the day it is published. A while back, after repeated calls by readers for The Australian to include a home-grown product, the Australian Times cryptic appeared once a week alongside the original Times crossword. Another great chance to foster some local Australian cryptic talent, you would think? No, the cheapskates employed two English cryptic setters to write Australian cryptic crosswords, and the results were questionable. It was clear at the time the setters were armed with lists of Australian names, places and terms, but, without context, we often had obscure Australian terms, especially proper nouns (rivers, towns etc) turn up as answers. Clearly the overseas setters didn’t thoroughly check out these words resulting in answers that no-one had ever heard of. One time “foreign politician” equated to SENATOR – maybe foreign in the UK, but not foreign here! The Australian Times cryptic felt like a crossword written by outsiders. The Australian Times cryptic eventually bit the dust when it was pointed out that these new crosswords were previous Sunday Times cryptics with the odd change. That’s how little The Times thought of the cryptic solvers of Australia. At one stage The Australian added a prize to the regular Sunday Times cryptic published on weekend, with the completed crossword used as an entry. It’s a pity all the answers appeared on the Times crossword blog weeks earlier. What a fiasco.

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3 Responses to The Stickler Weekly Insights 201 – Changing Times

  1. Greg Mansell says:

    Tell us what you really think, David!
    I know that News Corp was a major source of your income for many years. As far as I’m concerned, that’s pretty much all they had going for them. I now have no reason to spend any of my hard-earned on their publications.

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