Gina Rinehart is an Australian mining magnate. She was recently named as the richest woman in the World with an estimated fortune of nearly $30 Billion. She is the heiress of the late mining genius Lang Hancock, who passed away in 1992 leaving his only daughter Gina a fortune from his mining enterprises, and Gina has turned her inheritance into a now monumentally huge fortune. Gina Rinehart single handedly runs her late Father’s Corporation Hancock Prospecting, and she operates huge mining enterprises all across Australia. Currently she is buying up shares in the patently failing Fairfax Media Corporation, Australia’s second largest media outlet with a range of famous newspaper mastheads. The Fairfax Company is failing quite badly, failing to keep up as all media outlets diversify. Fairfax Media needs a huge injection of money. Rinehart has been increasing her stake in Fairfax, and currently has a 20% holding in the Company. Because she is a mining magnate (an immensely rich one) she is perceived as ‘the evil raider’, and with the Fairfax Media coming from the left (and more probably from the far left) there are loud protests that her views are not the ones that Fairfax media should be allowing to take control. What follows here is opinion of her take over, which Gina herself has not yet said she is doing…..TonyfromOz.
Andrew goes on to say:
FORMER Fairfax Media chairman Ron Walker has strongly backed Gina Rinehart’s push for representation on the board of the media company and questioned whether a decades-old, written editorial charter of independence still has any relevance for Fairfax directors.
Senior journalists from The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review yesterday released a letter sent to Mrs Rinehart this month demanding an assurance that she supported the principles set out in the charter and that she would uphold them…
Being told what opinion to express is something I would down tools over, so I sympathise with that fear. And it would be a disaster for a major news organisation to have proprietors dictate stories, But these clauses especially of the Fairfax code of independence seem to me to strip the proprietor of a right to protect their newspaper from being run badly:
4. That full editorial control of the newspapers, within a negotiated, fixed budget, be vested with the editors of the papers and that the editors alone shall determine the daily editorial content of the newspapers.
5. That the editors alone shall hire, fire and deploy editorial staff.
6. That the editors shall not sit on the board of the owning company or companies, or any non-publishing subsidiary companies, and shall not be directly responsible to the board but to its appointed management.
I do not see anything wrong with a proprietor asking for a certain writer or foreign correspondent to be hired, or demanding one be sacked that he or she believes has sullied the brand. I do not see anything wrong with a proprietor asking an editor to account for some decision made. I do not see anything wrong with a proprietor deciding, say, that some overseas bureau is an indulgence the company cannot afford.
In all these matters, it may well be best to allow the editor to decide for themselves. It should be true that the editor knows best. And the proprietor’s ideas may turn out to be poor. But no proprietor – or board – should accept they have no right to intervene should they see an editor make a bad call, a bad spend or a bad hire that will damage the paper.
But there is one critical guarantee that a newspaper proprietor should offer, even if only to prevent their paper from being attacked as a propaganda rag for their interests. A verbal and public guarantee should be enough to cover point two of the Fairfax charter:
2. That the proprietor(s) acknowledge that journalists, artists and photographers must record the affairs of the city, state, nation and the world fairly, fully and regardless of any commercial, political or personal interests, including those of any proprietors, shareholders or board members.
See how a proprietor might lift standards?
But here come the Left, desperate to keep Fairfax in their ideological camp – with laws, if necessary, to establish the power of the collective to dispose with the property of others as they see fit:
As Labor caucus members voiced fears that Mrs Rinehart would “trash the brand” and weaken journalism, Victorian MP Steve Gibbons called for laws to empower a new authority to oversee media behaviour and impose harsh penalties on those who breached standards.
The motion, which Mr Gibbons wanted to be debated in parliament on Monday, argues that the media industry has lost its “social licence to operate” and must face greater government control… Labor whip Joel Fitzgibbon last night threw his support behind Mr Gibbons’s motion …
Greens senator Scott Ludlam wrote yesterday to Senator Conroy and opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull, asking them to back legislation that would impose fines or other penalties on Mrs Rinehart if she breached the Fairfax charter.
I’ve been alarmed by some of Conroy’s disgraceful attempts to cow the media with inquiries and threats of further government-backed controls, but on this issue he so far deserves praise:
But Senator Conroy said … the Greens’ proposal would constitute government interference with independent media. ‘’Independence means independence,’’ he said. ‘’That means independent of Parliament, so we wouldn’t be doing that.’’
In fact, the only Fairfax shareholder asked to sign the charter in the past two decades is the conservative:
If Mrs Rinehart signed the charter, she would be the first director to do so since the original directors, including Zelman Cowen
There is no evidence Rinehart has the nous to improve Fairfax’s corporate and financial plight. But there is plenty of evidence she wants to use Fairfax assets to promote the west’s mining values that define her life and to promote Tony Abbott with his anti-carbon tax, anti-mining tax, anti-Labor-Green agenda. Convinced Australia is on the wrong road, Rinehart wants to change that direction. But with Fairfax mastheads in decline and the age of media magnates in eclipse, her ambition may finish in a deluded dream.
But Kelly in the same article says “without strong editors (the Fairfax charter) becomes a shield that tolerates and perpetuates editorial weakness”, yet “if Rinehart had the brains to accept the charter then she disarms her opponents”.
Paul, I don’t think it’s smart or even possible for Rinehart to “disarm” her opponents by signing a charter that you accept is a shield for editorial weakness. It strikes me as not smart, but weak, futile and even irresponsible.
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.