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Media ownership by buffoons

It is a tragedy  that the Fairfax group have fallen on hard times and seem destined to be run by the right-wing philistine Gina Rinehart. The Fairfax press – despite imperfections associated particularly with The Age – still represents the best quality media in this country. This will mean that most of the print (and a large part of the electronic media) in this country will express the views of NewsCorp and Gina Rinehart.  Newscorp’s The Australian and The Telegraph see Andrew Bolt (and his feeble-minded ilk in the IPA) as a major force for social intelligence in Australia.  Rinehart sponsors the mad Lord Monckton to deliver his version of climate change denialist madness to the Australian people.  A society which informed by the ignorant will necessarily fail to realise its potential.

We need to somehow preserve freedom from government control of the media but simultaneously insure that a diversity of  media views based on rationality (not narrow right-wing prejudice) are expressed.  Its a tricky one but the moves now in play with repeat to Fairfax and Rinehart  will mean that very soon the Australian media will be ruled by a bunch of buffoons who espouse crass ignorance.  We need intelligence and diversity.  I would introduce laws now to thwart Rinehard’s ownership ambitions and introduce policies which encourage competition and diversity in this vital sector of the economy.

23 comments to Media ownership by buffoons

  • conrad

    Perhaps it’s really just accelerating the demise of traditional print-style media, although I doubt Gina Rinehart will notice the monetary loss on her investment whenever Fairfax goes under or reduces themselves to another crappy website.

  • fxh

    I predict the rise of the very large weekend paper or magazine when they/we realise that the online papers will be expensive to access, hard to read quickly, full of screen sized bites and archives will be blocked.

    Certainly the daily dead tree paper is finished. Not the least because they are shallow in any analysis and context, limited in subjects deemed worthy of being news, and generally 12 – 24 hours out of date.

    I’m happy to get my “news” what ever that is, off radio, tv and their associate web site and my analysis, and my big stories and roundups, say for $5 or more, off a big set of dead tree weekend papers, something like a cross between Friday Fin Review and sat/sun age all rolled into one. Plus a bit of subject focused analysis off a few web sites.

    Daily Newspapers as they are are too slow to get news out in the day of radio everywhere, TV 24/7 and net backups to both.

  • Uncle Milton

    If and when Reinhart gains control of Fairfax and turns it into a mouthpiece for her business interests and prejudices that will be the end of Fairfax. Even if she attracts every current rader of the Australian that still won’t be enough to make the business work. But from Reinhart’s point of view it will be money well spent. She will have eliminated a critic and (what she sees as) a promoter of her ideological enemies. She can afford to drop a few billion dollars to do that.

    Do not confuse Reinhart with Rupert Murdoch. For all their political similarities, the is an important difference. Murdoch is a media man. He has spent his life in it. Reinhart could not care less about the media.

    But what can you do about it? Harry, would you really want to introduce laws to stop Reinhart taking over Fairfax? On what grounds? Because she is a right winger? Because she promotes people like Monckton? Think of the precedent that you would be setting, if nothing else.

    There will always be a market for media like The Age and the SMH. People like you – what advertisers used to call the AB demographic – want to read Laura Tingle not Dennis Shanahan, and certainly not Andrew Bolt. It won’t be in newsprint form. That much is obvious. The challenge is to how to make money out of digital media, enough to pay the salaries of Tingle etc and a return a profit.

  • JB Cairns

    two comments

    1) Rhinehart has no experience of media and her ‘investments’ are losing money

    20 the only business models that make money now are those who charge for financial matters.
    Charging for general information doesn’t make money. why pay for it at Fairfax when I get it fro free at the ABC for example.

    I thought Fairfax was gone when they rejected a column by FXH on Safari suits.

  • Fxh

    I’d be happy to pay a micro fee for anything with Laura Tingle’s name on it, per view.

    Michelle Grattan has lost it big time.

    Homer will be glad to read any paper with George Pell as editor and the ghost of Bob Santamaria on the opinions page, whilst he reclines in his kaftan, beard and hush puppies.

  • hc

    I worry, Uncle Milton, that Laura Tingle will be out of a job. I don’t think we should stand by and watch Fairfax destroyed. This is not a nightmare that we will eventually wake up from – it will be on ongoing disaster.

  • Uncle Milton

    Harry, I would imagine that Michael Stutchbury will be able to protect Laura Tingle, if he is so inclined.

    Short term, the Fairfax Board can keep Rinehart out. If they think that her influence will be bad for the company and the other shareholders, they have a duty to keep her out. But longer term, she has enough money to buy the whole damn company and nuke it if that is what she wants to do.

    You would hope that the people who write for Fairfax will re-form at a new place, just as the Ansett pilots went to work for Virgin when Ansett went down. The question is who will put up the capital and how to make it profitable.

  • Fxh

    Harry, if Crikey had 10 extra and high quality journos/analysts who took a stake while building up they sell the subscriptions easily.

  • Jim Rose

    why did she buy a 18% or so share on a business in a declining industry whose shares fell (I believe) by 87% in the past few years.

    is anything but her interest in a takeover keeping fairfax share prices above rock-bottom?

  • JB Cairns


    Her investments in both Fairfax and channel 10 are badly under water.

    She has made no bones about why she is doing it.

  • JB Cairns

    Merely changing to a more ‘rightwing’ opinions will not make for more readership.

    It didn’t work for the Age and hasn’t worked in radio.

    Why switch from the Hun?

    on the other hand she make simply want to subsidise a propaganda sheet like Rupert does at present

  • Jim Rose

    It seems like the print mass media and free-to-air TV are being propped up by vanity owners much like more than a few sports clubs.

    The print media survived the entry of TV and radio as news sources, so all is not losted.

  • JB Cairns

    I guess today proves my point.

    you have the OZ and the terror all attempting to say Barroso was criticizing Gillard.

    Annabelle Crab goes to the direct source and finds out he is having a go at Canada.

    you can’t buy that incompetence Gina. Offer Rupert money for the OZ.

  • Jim Rose

    If Fairfax is run into the ground as feared, it will be easy takeover opportunity.

    Restoring it to its former glory is a matter of bring-back its editorial independence. This is rather than confronting systemic issues such as being in a declining industry, excess costs, old technologies or a general content that has become unappealing to readers.

    A supply-side model of media ownership suggesting that newspapers weigh the rewards of bias—political influence or personal pleasure—against the cost of bias—lost circulation from providing faulty news.

    The key predictions of this model are that, as the size of the market for newspapers rises, and as the marginal cost of producing a paper falls, newspapers will become less biased and invest more in gathering information.

    Public corruption declined over the 20th century because media proprietors discovered that they could maintain and boost circulation by exposing it.

    Politicians did not help the process along. It was technological innovations and increased urban populations

    Newspapers had become big business, and they increased readership and revenue by presenting factual and informative news. Following these financial incentives, newspapers changed from being political tools to impartial reporting.

    HT: The Rise of the Fourth Estate: How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered by Matthew Gentzkow, Edward L. Glaeser, and Claudia Goldin Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America’s Economic History (2006), University of Chicago Press. Can be downloaded for free at NBER books. Worth a read.

  • rog

    Gina will do for Fairfax what Bond did for 4X.

  • rog

    Behind Gina we have characters like Singo, who is another lunatic. Singo thinks Jonesy is the best thing since sliced bread and Andrew Bolt thinks he has Gina’s support. And the we have that fraud Monckton who has Gina’s ample

  • JB Cairns

    The most ironic thing would be if she did gain ownership and control and then went wacko catallaxy style it would simply mean a boost for the ABC.

    Fancy a government entity understanding the internet much better than the private sector.

    now that would cause hashing of teeth at Catallaxy!

  • Uncle Milton

    “Fancy a government entity understanding the internet much better than the private sector.”

    Since it was a government entity, the US Department of Defense, that invented the internet it might not be that might of a surprise.

    Problem is that the ABC doesn’t produce newspapers, either in dead tree or digital form. The ABC has some fine journalists, but there is no reason to think that any of them can write. They are broadcasters.

  • JB Cairns

    Maybe maybe not.

    the ABC is almost a virtual newspaper now.

    I think a lot of them can write judging from what I have read.

  • JB Cairns


    even Annabelle Crab in a tweet can show Barosso was talking about Harper and Canada which it appears is beyond the competence of Dennis Shanahan and Simon Benson!

  • Alphonse

    If Rinehart didn’t have more $$ than any sane person could possibly want, she wouldn’t be turning a press organ into a male organ at great but, to her, insignificant cost – in order to get even more $$ than any sane person could possibly want.

    Bring in a real resources rent tax, a wealth tax above $10M and an income tax that gets seriously progressive over $1M. If that sends our Rineharts, Palmers, Forrests etc offshore, so much the better. Amassment by hook or by crook is not enterprise.

  • Jim Rose

    Uncle Milton, the US Department of Defense did not invent the internet. al gore invented the internet. the clip is on youtube.

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