I honestly can’t tell the difference between Fairfax and News Ltd any more, especially after the Herald went tabloid and Gina Rinehart’s toxic influence infected it.
Evidence could be found in a recent Chinese junket shared by both the PM’s department and mining magnate Andrew Forrest.
Crikey’s Matthew Knott revealed last week that both Fairfax and News Ltd’s expenses were paid by Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group and that payment wasn’t disclosed. And both Fairfax and News Ltd didn’t think it was a problem. Presumably Forrest innocently wanted to make a few new friends while hoping no one would mention Tibet or the Falun Gong. And it worked – having your own media tag along ensures those awkward questions are never asked.
Knott says that Mark Pearson, an expert in media law and ethics at Griffith University, told Crikey media outlets should disclose paid travel and accommodation within their stories or in a footnote at the end. ‘The mainstream media needs points of difference from the new media,’ he said. ‘They don’t do it at their peril. It’s what distinguishes them from the riff-raff.’
But why bother with a point of difference when you both control almost everything? According to The Australian Collaboration’s Democracy in Australia – Media concentration and media laws document (found at www.australiancollaboration.com. au), ‘Currently two newspaper groups (News Limited and John Fairfax Holdings) account for over 90 per cent of the circulation of daily newspapers, and Australia has only three commercial television networks.’
So Woolies and Coles own the food and if it wasn’t for the ABC, News Ltd and Fairfax would own the information.
A misconception about big media is that it behaves like any corporate organisation. It simply doesn’t. In addition to customer relationships and shareholder obligations, it has a unique role in democratic societies. The fourth estate, as it was once called, provided societies with critical analysis of those in charge.
Not any more. Given the current climate of sucking up to mining, would more media diversity just mean that Mr Forrest and the PM would have to charter more planes for overseas junkets?