Mining magnate turns to media
Margaret Simons, journalist and director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism at Melbourne University says: “We are speculating about Gina Rinehart, because her motives are far from clear . . . In her background and history, there is no sign of the subtlety and sophisticated understanding of political cultural issues that might make her a good media proprietor.
“Rather, she seems keen to push her own view of the world.”
Rinehart herself, apart from the penchant for legal action, has been a private person, only going public to lead rallies against the mining tax and now to threaten media.
Not all of the criticism of her is fair and it is not only her wealthy mining buddies who believe that.
“A lot of it is sexism, and fattism,” said one high-placed veteran journalist, referring to continual jibes about Rinehart’s girth. “They wouldn’t make these snide comments about a man.”
While she – appropriately garbed in expensive white linens – portrays herself as a white knight riding to the rescue of beleaguered media houses, the chattering classes of urban Australia feel this sentiment is tongue in cheek.
Rinehart, hard hat worn over her hard head, can call the shots in the Pilbara as Roy Hill comes on stream, but Canberra might prove a tougher seam to mine.
MEDIA MELTDOWN PRINTING PRESS CLOSURES, BROADSHEETS TURNING TABLOID AND JOB LOSSES
Australian newspapers are in the throes of a digital revolution, which has seen printing presses closed, venerable broadsheets shrink to tabloid, state and local papers lose their identity and about 3,500 jobs to go.
Who reads the papers? Circulation across the board is about 18 million copies a day. The two giants, which publish the influential big-city titles as well as man regional papers, are Fairfax and News Limited, the Australian arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. News Ltd has 70 per cent, Fairfax 30 per cent.
Fairfax Media publishes the Sydney Morning Herald (print circulation about 200,000 daily, with online visits vastly outstripping print readership) and the Age, beloved institutions among a certain stratum of society. News Ltd publishes the Australian as well as titles in all the capital cities. So far it is untouched by Gina Rinehart – but then, it has Rupert Murdoch.
Rinehart also holds a 10.2 per cent stake in Network Ten Network, a national television company. There is nothing in legislation to prevent her stake in Fairfax.
What Rinehart says about the media
“We are certainly in support of journalist integrity and accuracy” (via a statement from HPPL).
What the media says about her
“Gina Rinehart’s interest in the media has nothing to do with journalism. It is about influence. Like Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rinehart is used to getting what she wants. Ignore her at your peril.”
– Bruce Dover, head of the Australia Network and author of a book on his former boss Murdoch.