Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Strange days for journalism

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  • Geoff Lealand,

    The Sydney Mining Herald....and the Melbourne Gag?

    Why does Australia produce monsters like her--Packer, Murdoch et al?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2537 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That would certainly happen if she dumped her shares, yes. That’s the basis of the threat.

    So you agree Fairfax is basically worthless in its current state. That is is unprofitable and unlikely to become viable.

    And you seriously think Fairfax losing money year after year is a sustainable model? Okay ...

    Oh, for god’s sake Angus. Rinehart wants to do away with Fairfax’s charter of editorial independence.

    She is a right wing nut job flush with $millions in loose change who wants a soapbox from which to espouse her views - I agree.

    However Rinehart wants a BIG soapbox and Fairfax is a big unprofitable soapbox that needs lots of her cash. She wants to employ lots of journalists to espouse her views. She, and almost she alone, is in the position to save the jobs of Fairfax employees.

    This is a dilemma. But instead of presenting this as a dilemma, you are portraying everything as being the fault of Rinehart.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeah, I’d be a bit worried about someone like that controlling the majority of New Zealand’s newspapers.

    She would close them apart from the cash cow and the Wellington opion-makers morning fix.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • JLM, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    You know how it's illegal for New Zealanders to make atomic bombs? Maybe Aussie should have a similar law banning its nationals from owning media empires.

    I'm certain I saw a documentary decades ago about an Australian mining magnate and his daughter entitled something like "Only a little nuclear bomb" which referred to the fact that they wanted to use such a device instead of standard explosives in their mining operations. They had a poster on their wall saying "Environmentalists, let them freeze in the dark". Does that ring a bell for anyone?

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 239 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen S,

    I hope you also discuss the state of New Zealand media besides Rinehart. Editorial indepence for many media outlets here, especially TV, has been lost in a sense through cost cutting.
    Decisions aren't overrun by boards or CEOs, but the lack of money and resource to get out of the city, to travel for a story that isn't a headline, to research is doing journalists' heads in and almost controlling content in a very unfortunate way.

    Stories aren't covered, not because the journos aren't smart enough or interested enough, but because there's no money, no resource, no cameraman or whatever to get it done. Answer? Revert to accessible story, whether it ticks the news value boxes or not.

    With that situation comes the reliance on stories that have been set-up by PR people. Talent comes to you, information handed to you... boat to the Island organised by DOC so you can see xy123 endangered bird released. There's a story fit for consumption! And more importantly it fills the duration!

    Let's get some real discussion around what's wrong with the industry, what drives people out of the industry and how long the average grad journo will stay in the industry for now. Not long I suspect.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2012 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    So you agree Fairfax is basically worthless in its current state. That is is unprofitable and unlikely to become viable.

    And you seriously think Fairfax losing money year after year is a sustainable model? Okay …

    The threat is to dump nearly 20% of the company on the market. That would simply destroy the stock.

    She is a right wing nut job flush with $millions in loose change who wants a soapbox from which to espouse her views – I agree.

    However Rinehart wants a BIG soapbox and Fairfax is a big unprofitable soapbox that needs lots of her cash. She wants to employ lots of journalists to espouse her views. She, and almost she alone, is in the position to save the jobs of Fairfax employees.

    But institutional investors don't agree. They're concerned that turning Fairfax into Rinehart's vanity publishing house would destroy their equity.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Stephen S,

    Attachment

    As recently seen on facebook :)

    Stories aren’t covered, not because the journos aren’t smart enough or interested enough, but because there’s no money, no resource, no cameraman or whatever to get it done. Answer? Revert to accessible story, whether it ticks the news value boxes or not.
    With that situation comes the reliance on stories that have been set-up by PR people. Talent comes to you, information handed to you…

    Yes! The ratio of PR originated stories has very sharply risen in the last decade- and probably still rising. Without it entering the ‘national discourse’ because, ahem, the media (apart from the meta-media, like Media 7) hardly want to trumpet this tawdry state of affairs.
    Where did I read recently that there were 5 PR people for every 3 journalists- and they had 3x the money behind them? (Probably not NZ figures, but I’d bet it’s a bad ratio here).

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen S, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I've just stepped out of journalism and the rise of PR originated stories can be blamed on what I said - a lack of bodies and a lack of resource.
    Then there's the very real added problem of producers/editors towing the populist line and telling their journalists the public wants gaga, one direction or whatever other crap over business, finance or other subjects with meat. Apparently the audience doesn't care about substance. That's when I walked...

    Auckland • Since Jun 2012 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But institutional investors don’t agree. They’re concerned that turning Fairfax into Rinehart’s vanity publishing house would destroy their equity.

    Which ties in to my comparisons with Rev Moon & the Washington Times.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5418 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Stephen S,

    the rise of PR originated stories can be blamed on what I said – a lack of bodies and a lack of resource.
    Then there’s the very real added problem of producers/editors toeing the populist line

    Totally agree. Both are huge problems. Add in the loss of institutional knowledge and specialist 'rounds' and bean-counting mangers....
    Advertising was always the devil's deal in terms of supporting journalism. Worked sometimes- for a while...
    So how do we fund journalism in the 21st century? Assuming we don't want it to be the plaything of the mega-wealthy, state funding seems one necessity.
    What other models are out there?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    Free speech in NZ has for a long time amounted to the right of foreign billionaires to propagandise in support of their business interests and political clients. The only exception has been the state broadcasters: TVNZ and RNZ. The “business-friendly” (billionaires client) National party hates them and is doing all it can to hand broadcasting over to the unethical foreign billionaire they favour the most: Rupert Murdoch, who owns 44% of SKY.

    Unless you have a billion dollars, the only thing you can do about it is don’t give them your money and do all you can to support local media who act ethically.

    …and don’t vote for people who can’t see that limiting effective free speech to foreign billionaires is a bad thing.

    I don’t subscribe to SKY and never will while this situation remains. I refuse to pay for propaganda and subsidize my own dumbing down.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen S, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I for one support the idea of paywalls to generate income and return journalism to a user-pays service. Many would disagree I know, but I see no reason why the work of a journalist should be available for free online.

    Funding broadcast journalism is another story and probably warrants a half-day discussion rather than a blog reply.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2012 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Oh, for god’s sake Angus. Rinehart wants to do away with Fairfax’s charter of editorial independence.

    Something even the demon Rupert Murdoch had some respect for – unless he just forgot to dictate pro-Iraq War editorials down the line to the New Zealand newspapers he had an interest in at the time.

    This “damage” has nothing to do with Rinehart. She does not control seats on the board that made the decision to downsize Fairfax operations.

    Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining, Angus. There are many adjectives I’d apply to Rinehart but “so stupid she has no idea of the effect of dumping almost 20% of Fairfax shares on the market unless she gets everything her own way”? Defies belief.

    Rinehart - like her father Lang Hancock before her -- reacts in a disturbingly toddler-like manner to the word "No". Sadly, she also shares her father's belief that screaming as you beat your enemies over the head with a chequebook is how grown-ups settle their differences. Unfortunately, it seems to be true.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Stephen S,

    I for one support the idea of paywalls to generate income and return journalism to a user-pays service.

    If I thought it'd work, I'd agree. Just not convinced it will.
    What about a subscription model that offered a little extra juice to subscribers- eg perhaps only subscribers could comment? Or a 'members' lounge' area of the site- perhaps with extra footage/transcripts of interviews (for news junkies)?
    I'd like to see journalist-owned ventures. And/or trust-run media.
    But none of these preclude the need for more and stronger public journalism. RNZ is carrying a lot of weight at the moment.

    Funding broadcast journalism is another story and probably warrants a half-day discussion rather than a blog reply.

    Too true :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If she dumps her shares and the value crashes....she could probably buy an even larger chunk of the company at firesale prices.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I'd like to see no person or corporation allowed to own more than one media outlet of any type. Anything else results in barriers to entry and monopolistic editorial control serving narrow interests.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Steve Withers,

    the state broadcasters: TVNZ and RNZ

    being over 90% dependent on commercial advertising revenue, it has been a while since TVNZ matched that description. Maori TV on the other hand..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Steve Withers,

    I’d like to see no person or corporation allowed to own more than one media outlet of any type.

    Would that include requiring The Scott Trust Ltd. (one of the more agreeable fruits of tax avoidance) to break up the Guardian Media Group by selling The Observer and divesting it’s other print interests. (Russell would know better than me, but wasn't there a long stretch when GMG's interest in Auto Trader was quietly but transparently keeping The Guardian and Observer solvent? Which, BTW, is the whole point of The Trust's investment strategy.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to izogi,

    ( wildly digressing here )

    Yes, it's oddly drafted, isn't it, in that it doesn't seem to proscribe a visitor making a nuke.

    Also, if I, as an NZ citizen, were to go and work for AWE (the UK's nuclear weapons lab), would I violate S.5.2.b ? Because I'd be a servant of the Crown, albeit not in right of New Zealand - does 'Crown' mean the latter?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • bronwyn,

    The Monthly did a great profile on Gina Rinehart in last month's issue - it's now available online. Obviously it's before this recent spate of action, but is a great backgrounder on some the forces that have made her who she is.

    tamaki makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to bronwyn,

    The Monthly did a great profile on Gina Rinehart in last month’s issue – it’s now available online. Obviously it’s before this recent spate of action, but is a great backgrounder on some the forces that have made her who she is.

    And to think the ghost of Sir Joh had been exorcised...

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5418 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to bronwyn,

    Obviously it’s before this recent spate of action, but is a great backgrounder on some the forces that have made her who she is.

    Lang Hancock was a piece of work – and that’s saying something in a fertile breeding ground for sociopathic rat-bastards like Australia. He’s a RW Tywin Lannister – not intended as a compliment, and should not read as implying Rinehart would have shagged her twin brother if she’d had one. Strangled him in vitro would be more plausible. I feel a small grain of sympathy for her, and it's akin to the one I feel for both Rupert Murdoch and his own children. How could you ever measure up to Keith Murdoch or Lang Hancock, even in your own eyes, without leaving a mile-wide swathe of smouldering wreckage in your wake?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    That said, Rinehart's hair-trigger persecution mania (when, by any objective measure she's lived a life of eye-watering privilege and entitlement) would be funny if it wasn't so dangerous. Perhaps I'm missing something, but publicly threatening to torpedo Fairfax's share price if she doesn't get her own way isn't how a responsible adult behaves.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    But institutional investors don't agree. They're concerned that turning Fairfax into Rinehart's vanity publishing house would destroy their equity.

    Well yeah.

    Their equity has declined 90% in 5 years and apparently is still massively overvalued at its current trading price. If Rinehart sells off the price will fall, because no one thinks that Fairfax is worth the current price.

    They stand to lose equity either way.

    The institutional investors are probably hoping Rinehart can be goaded into making a full blown takeover bid, so they can bail on their worthless shareholdings at an inflated price.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Nat, in reply to bronwyn,

    The Monthly did a great profile on Gina Rinehart in last month's issue - it's now available online. Obviously it's before this recent spate of action, but is a great backgrounder on some the forces that have made her who she is.

    And there's also this one from the Global Mail on Lang Hancock.

    Seattle • Since Jun 2011 • 52 posts Report Reply

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