Treat the satire paper like it’s real news.
Back in the day before they were all ‘in your face’ with stunts galore, educating the Australian public on media spin and environmental issues, The Chaser comedy troupe was simply black, white and read all over.
Originally consisting of Charles Firth, Dominic Knight, Julian Morrow, Chas Licciardello and Craig Reucassel, the group of University students created a satirical newspaper titled The Chaser in 1999, lampooning topical news and current affairs of the time. With a limited print distribution and fan base, it wasn’t long until Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen joined the team, contributing alongside other writers.
The first issue of The Chaser was published May 1999, available in newsagencies and around universities in small quantities. It wasn’t until Issue two, released on June 2, 1999 – the paper changed to a fortnightly print cycle.
The readership was still quite low, but over time, depending on the newsagent, The Chaser would be mistaken for an actual newspaper as it would occasionally sit next to legitimate newspapers, and the fan-base slowly developed. With attention-seeking headlines and cheeky stories, such as fake celebrity deaths (mainly their careers), major media coverage developed, and their readership rose dramatically.
It wasn’t until Issue 68 from February 21, 2003, where then Australian Prime Minister John Howard‘s phone number was printed on the front page, and was subsequently blocked after the general public called. Even the Federal Police questioned the team about how they got the phone number in the first place.
Due to the popularity of the newspaper, the main Chaser team started to work in mainstream media, such as a radio show on the Triple M network, writing articles for T
Due to the demanding workload and rising productions, the physical newspaper was shutdown in 2005, ending on Issue 90, though it was printed as Issue 99.94 as a homage to cricketer Sir Donald Bradman‘s iconic 99.94 batting average.
But the dream still lives on, with 6 Annuals printed from 2005 to 2010, and the Chaser newspaper based purely online.
The National Library of Australia’s digital site Trove has all 90 issues available to download for free in glorious PDF form, with no sign-up. You can use their search function capability, or you can click here to begin from Issue One.