Iain Hall's SANDPIT

Home » Australian Politics » The media landscape when the sheep begin to meow

The media landscape when the sheep begin to meow

As someone who has taken a stick to the minions of Fairfax journalism on a regular basis I find the panic among the Latte sippers rather amusing. Watching Dave and Jezza’s sycophants having conniptions in the soon to be closed Pure Poison comment threads just makes me roll with laughter. The biggest joke of all is this notion of “editorial independence” that is thrown around by the fans of Fairfax with gay abandon as if it means anything worthwhile. In the age of the internet if you want “independent” journalism then you have only one option and that is to turn to bloggers who do it for love rather than “journalists” who write for a pay cheque. I think that the age of professional interlocutors between the political action and the public is in serious decline, especially when just about very person with a fancy phone and an internet connection can upload footage of events in real time well ahead of the professionals who massage the story to suit their own agenda.

Of course I may well be a bit ahead of the wave here and it may be a while before the old media has its machine that goes ping turned off and it ceases to make any money at all for its proprietors so in that indefinite interim we will see some big changes like the takeover of Fairfax  by Gina Reinhardt who I suspect sees the possibility of making a quid out of its digital service rather than its big city mast heads in Sydney and Melbourne. With the move to a more digitally focused service does anyone want to bet that we won’t see more of its journalism being casualised or that they will be paid on piece work basis rather than them being on an expensive salary? Remember though that a casual worker who wants to earn has to try harder to please their boss…

If my scenario is correct, and it could be, what does it mean for the people in terms of them getting  clear and factual information? I certainly don’t think it means that we will be totally at the mercy of Gina’s personal agenda  quite simply because the voices that she sponsors through her  media interests will certainly be a long way short of any kind of a monopoly on the eyes and ears of the people. I am sure that for most of us who are interested in politics these days no longer rely entirely on any one source as it was in the golden age of the newspaper. Therein lies the problem for anyone who wants to make a quid from news and reporting it in world with every person can be the eyes and ears of the world even if its just once in their life time what value is there in paying large amounts of cash for someone to, for example, watch fuzzy wuzzy   twitter and write silly articles that no one wants to read?

I think  that the angst felt by many of my friends form the left at the decline of newspapers boils down to a very simple idea from totalitarians of the past, namely if you control the information that gets to the people then you can herd  them towards your desired ideological standpoint. However if you can’t have a monopoly on their attention because there are so many voices vying for it in the internet age, then  it becomes less like herding sheep and  more like herding cats and anyone who has tried to corral them knows that it is another thing altogether.

  Cheers Comrades


  1. victorlittle says:

    As far as I can see, the term “independence” really means “Left-leaning”. Gina is being told to bow down to Fairfax’s unwritten charter of Leftism far more than to a never-signed charter of editorial independence. Independence is always put in opposition to conservatism. Balance, fairness, democracy, diversity — these things can apparently only be provided by “independent” bodies like the ABC or a govt regulated Fairfax. The ungovernable essence of the internet is truly a wonderful thing.


    To me it comes down to this. She has purchased a considerable stake in an ailing business and she has the right to have a say in how it is run…if that means she uses it as a personal soap box then she will not be the first or last to do so.

  3. Richard Ryan says:

    ON the subject of soap——-do fat people really use more soap?.

  4. GD says:

    Good post, Iain, and one echoed by those prominent in the profession:
    David Penberthy, editor of the Punch reckons, ‘the hysteria about the apparent right-wing influence of someone such as Rinehart is a de facto concession from the more rabid Fairfax staff that they want to persist with their own left-wing influenced copy’.

    Miranda Devine, former Fairfax writer, (she was there for ten years), states

    You’re in quicksand up to your waist, about to be sucked into oblivion, when along comes a lady with a rope. She wants to save your life. What do you do? For most people it’s a no-brainer, but for Fairfax Media, owners of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, it’s a cause for existential angst.

    “The barbarians are at the gate,” they wail, now that West Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has bought almost 19 per cent of the ailing company and wants three seats on the board.

    “Save us from the wicked witch of the west.”.

    The punters are also quite vocal:

    The main reason I never read the Age and the SMH very much. It was obvious that about 90% of their articles had a left wing bias. It was either facts suppressed; or the tone given to headlines, and just outright preaching. (Just like the ABC). At least in The Australian I got to read a variety of viewpoints, and the news articles were presentations of facts, not a campaign.

    lawyer of Perth (Reply)Sun 24 Jun 12 (07:04pm

    The leftie sheep are certainly mewing and miaowing. Bottom line is if Fairfax sold more papers they wouldn’t be in this predicament. Newly appointed Fairfax CEO, Greg Hywood, when asked by 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, if the content of the paper was responsible for the loss of sales, emphatically replied, “No!”

    To quote Forrest Gump, ‘stupid is as stupid does.’

    The latest figures show that Fairfax gets over 80% of its ‘breaking stories’ from wire services, ie, cut and paste. It turns out News Ltd only rely on the wire services for 2% of their content.

    It’s no wonder that Fairfax have axed 1900 ‘cut and paste’ journos. Perhaps if they introduced a modicum of balance in their reporting, they may attract more readers, and need a few less ‘cut and paste’ reporters.

  5. GD says:

    A perfect example of Fairfax reporting….

    TdeF replied to Gab
    Tue 26 Jun 12 (03:28pm)
    Imagine the Sunday morning papers two days ago. Full Black Caviar liftout in the Herald Sun. Not a mention in the Age. Anywhere. Not a comment. Nothing. Why? Why a front page footballer and a picture of Gina with some family dirt. Who would elect to buy this paper on Sunday morning?

  6. alan says:

    yeah i always get the new ltd rag on sundays too……it’s got a good tv guide for my wife but nothing much else.
    i saw the black caviar thing and choked on my latte, as it was clearly marked the 2am extra!!
    i was sure their extra editions had gone the way of the dodo a long time ago.

    i suppose we can compare the amount of space they will give the slipper case, now that it’s going south for them……them, being news ltd and the part they have played via lewis, and those grubby little men that have partaken in the set up.
    although i suppose it would be an honourable thing to get rid of slipper……..just that it would be best if it were done by honourable people, rather than scum bags that are of the same mould as the one they were after.

  7. Richard Ryan says:

    Can we blame the extinction of the Dodo on climate change.

  8. Richard Ryan says:

    Will Abbott blame the small number of people coming here on boats, as our forefathers did, on the carbon tax, from July 1st.

  9. Richard Ryan says:

    Will the carbon tax, cure cancer.

  10. Richard Ryan says:

    Will the carbon tax, get people to quit smoking?

  11. Richard Ryan says:

    Will the carbon tax, stop boat people from coming to Australia?

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the Sandpit

I love a good argument so please leave a comment

Please support the Sandpit

Please support the Sandpit

Do you feel lucky?

Do you feel lucky?

%d bloggers like this: