Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fairfax : Stating the Bleeding Obvious or Taking The Piss

 The Fairfax family were once the proud owners of titles like the Sydney Morning Herald first published in 1831 and the Melbourne Age established in 1854 and once regarded as one of the greatest broadsheets on the planet.
The Fairfax family have long departed (making hundreds of millions of dollars in the process) and the Fairfax empire has been stumbling along badly ever since. The last remaining family member John B.Fairfax sold his shares for $189M in 2011.
 Reputedly the editor who spent time and money trying to convince Fairfax board members to embrace digital was booted only to be snapped up by The Guardian in the UK which now slightly lags behind the Mail Online as the most popular newspaper website in the world.

Tomorrow's Sydney Morning Herald will feature a piece titled Most powerful players in Australian film, basically a list of household names who command power and big money in the Australian film industry. the real heavy hitters with surprising results it trumps !

Well not quite. Sam Worthington, Chris Hemsworth, Geoffrey Rush, Mia Kasalwoska, Rose Byrne, Hugh Jackman, Emile Sherman etc etc are unlikely to surprise anyone. And who is one of their sources ?
Rose Byrne
A photo agency called Jamie Fawcett Photo News run by Jamie Fawcett the photographer bankrupted by Fairfax during a court case in which Nicole Kidman appeared as a witness.
A Shuttle reader sent us an email a week ago with 2 screen shots which we cannot display for legal reasons.
The Sydney Morning Herald had published a story about the arrest of a union official. We had already read the tale the night before on a website called Independent Australia which has been miles ahead of both News Ltd and Fairfax on the same story. In the first screen shot the SMH claimed it had "exposed the embezzlement" of union funds by the official as well as claiming something similar about a Member of Parliament.

By Mid-day the word 'allegedly' had finally been inserted before the damaging claims. Did Fairfax inform their readers of their mistake and apologise as  their code of conduct requires ?. Most certainly not. 

The editor of Independent Australia, David Donavon has ripped into Fairfax over their incorrect claim in their Brisbane Times that a woman had yelled at Prime Minister Julia Gillard during a Queensland community meeting that she was 'white trash', duly reported by the BT and picked up around the country by various news outlets.
What the woman actually said which is clearly audible on BT's own website is that "we are not white trash" referring to herself and her son.
The Sun
And the Brisbane Time's reaction when asked to correct the lie : total denial it had ever happened.

Sydney Morning Herald

Fairfax share price is plunging almost weekly despite it owning a reputed $5B in assets. Staff are being made redundant at a great rate with 29 fired a fortnight ago in Melbourne.
A month ago the Shuttle ran into a former Fairfax editor, now publisher of on-line magazines. Asked to comment on the anouncment that Fairfax will go digital in 9 years he scoffed. "5 at the most and possibly 3" was his reply. 

On Thursday the Shuttle attended the opening of the French brasserie style Aranas Bar in The Rocks owned by the same people as the nearby Lowenbrau beer cellar. We had forgotten it was Oktoberfestt and had to pick our way past a blaring oompah band and some thigh slapping chaps in lederhosen (we are assured they are of German descent). It was a reasonably staid affair with good food and copious amounts of Veuve Clicquot but the Shuttle didn't visit the Gents or we may have witnessed the bizarre urinals that became a feature the following day in the media.
Gina Rinehart

What we did notice is that the venerable Sydney Morning Herald produced a piece that was almost a carbon copy of Britain's infamous The Sun newspaper which 20 years ago would have been it's ideological opposite, quoting the same sources, feminist Ann Summers and former Parliamentarian Meredith Burgmann.

Will readers sign up to a digital version of Fairfax Newspaper to read this stuff ?. And more importantly, why is the world's richest woman Gina Rinehart snapping up Fairfax shares as they plunge. Is it to put it out of it's misery?.