Has Gina done us all a favor?
Posted by Dave Bath on 2012-06-20
Has Gina Rinehart done us all a favor by her ham-fisted attempt to stifle the only moderately-balanced privately owned newspapers in the country, by making it obvious Big Money thinks the press can be bought as a proxy means of buying politicians?
The world’s richest woman, mining magnate Rinehart, has made it plain she wants to make Fairfax (The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, as well as numerous popular radio stations) more mining-friendly, more anti-scientific-consensus, and I suspect, more against the opinion of independent economists when it comes to policy in general.
- No more can informed debate dismiss as ridiculous what was previously almost held as "conspiracy theory" the notion that Big Money will seek to control the press to control debate, and policy.
- She has certainly increased the feelings progressives have to a decent media sector that, at least as a whole sector, is theoretically important to a liberal democracy.
- She cannot trash the brand, and profitability, while avoiding the wrath of corporate regulators, without a complete takeover. This will at least raise the price of fairfax shares during a takeover, putting money in the pockets of people who have been supporting better journalism, and more likely to contribute to society with it than Gina ever would!
- Her claims that moving to the right editorially is the fix to Fairfax’s woes is rendered ridiculous when the centrist Fairfax, just in Melbourne, sells more newspapers, at least 25% more, than the pro-plutocrat Murdoch "The Australian" does across the entire nation. She is either stupid, or a liar, or both – and proof not everyone, especially with inherited wealth, should be listened to.
- If she does destroy what existing investors see as their most valuable asset and product differentiator – relatively independent journalism – then most readers will move their habits online to the likes of ABC Drum for their daily dose of analysis, opinion, and "letters to the editor".
- The timing, with Murdoch on the nose with criminal investigations in England for privacy violations and improper political interference, could not have been more likely to inflame progressives.
- By bringing forward the rationalization in size of the print edition, moving many classifieds to the net, less trees will be killed, and the latte sippers will have more room on their tables in cafes!
While progressives may be angry at Gina in the short term, it may be the pigs, the "one percent", the "five percent", those against evidence-based policy, that will be angrier with her in the long term. That’s not guaranteed, but it is a possibility, a possibility the arrogance of Big Money is naturally too stupid to consider.
- "Go ahead Gina, build another content company", Alan Kohler, takes a wider view of things, and in places, against the "common wisdom". (Business Spectator, 2012-06-19)
Gina Rinehart has absolutely nothing to contribute to the transformation of the company into a profitable digital publisher and is not interested in it anyway, …
the combination of print and digital publishing simply does not work. They are completely different products with different uses, and the construction and operation of them require totally different ways of thinking.
- "In defence of independent media", Malcolm Fraser, former PM, once-bogeyman of the left, now the only publically-active elder statesman in the country, (Business Spectator, 2012-06-19)
Media should not be under the direct control of special interest groups whether they belong to this country or to other countries. That is why we need diversity of media ownership. That is why I stood on the back of a truck with Gough Whitlam overlooking Fitzroy Gardens long years ago, to try and prevent the Fairfax empire falling into foreign hands. A foreign owner has interests that are not ours. A mining magnate has specific industry interests that are not necessary those of Australia.