When Gina met Roger

Below find Gina’s Rinehart’s open letter to Fairfax Chairman Roger Corbett. She ain’t going away.
58fa8352-c1aa-11e1-b606-9fa46891f75b_Letter to Roger Corbett and Fairfax

David Llewellyn-Smith
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Comments

  1. As I said, it was never about the charter. The charter was a convenient diversion, a red herring and all the minnows took it hook line and sinker.

    • russellsmith55

      I think an argument can be made for ensuring the chairman abides by the charter too, assuming there is still some mechanism for removing wayward editors (and assuming there’s a damn good official definition of wayward).

      I noticed she still didn’t state her intention to be bound by it… do you think if he provided milestones she would agree to abide by the charter?

  2. Gina wrote a letter to Roger Corbetts dog called Rover?

    What would Gina want with a dinosaur anyway?

  3. GR is going to damage her formidabble business reputation by boarding this sinking ship.

    As much as she might like to think the current management is the problem — and new management could theoretically fix it — she is seriously misguided. It is a complete waste of her time and money.

    Media companies are extremely political environments. The culture cannot be changed because it would require the mindsets of thousands of people to be changed. The crash-through approach will not succeed.

    Fairfax is in terminal decline anyway and in the long-term it cannot be saved by anybody except government bailout.

    GR is good at digging holes in the ground but this time might have dug a metaphorical one for herself.

  4. She is obviously just another bullying mogul, lavish in her own self-regard and plump with contempt for those who stand in her way.

    I suspect she does not want to acquire Fairfax for any reason other than to bury it in of her hoped-for pits.

    • russellsmith55

      I think ‘obviously’ only applies in this case if you aren’t employed by the mining industry.

      • russellsmith55

        Agreed. They should also have an interest in whether Gina gets editorial power over what can and can’t be printed, as that would action would deter many of Fairfax’s existing customer base who believe it to still have journalism independent of wealthy powers and vested interests.

        • Many assumptions there Russ. No one knows what if any directives Ms Rinehart may issue if in position of editorial influence; if directives are issued may be of a relatively benign nature; Fairfax media may be renewed and refreshed by change of leadership and direction which may result in renewed audience – AFR has recently addressed editorial direction and benefited from strong uptick in readership – it may be happy days for all – but it certainly ain’t gonna be happy days for long given current direction under Corbett.

          The writing is on the wall.

          • russellsmith55

            I can’t pretend to have high hopes for Fairfax in it’s current charter-driven form. Fairfax is a manufacturer of horse-buggies in a world that is slowly discovering the automobile.

            She may have an opinion-free agenda; but a quick viewing of her television program ‘The Bolt Report’ puts this highly in doubt.

            If my doubts were proved true and she did want to convert it into the Fox News type of editorialism (i.e. vested interest agenda), I concede it may actually provide them with a good long-term survival option. Those types of publications have smaller but loyal readerships, and the money problem is solved through cash-for-comment and Gina pumping more of her own money into it.

            It’s just a shame Fairfax can’t sustain itself on the charter model, and a shame that their current chairman seems to have no alternative. And its nothing about Gina personally, she’s just the biggest shark capable of circling their life boat at the moment.

          • You’re right, as much many loathe it, the Fox format works – many more love it.

            But who knows what direction a Rinehart inspired Fairfax might take. Exciting really.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            But who knows what direction a Rinehart inspired Fairfax might take. Exciting really.

            Maybe if you consider Australia completing its transition into a mini-America to be “exciting”.

        • That in itself isn’t enough reason to put this much money on the table. Gina could have a lobby group bigger than an army for that much money.

          She has no more knowledge of the news and advertsing business than I have.

          I would like to know what is in it for her. I don’t see this as an act of pure benevolance – there must be an underlying reason. I doubt that she is a fool, so what is the payout?

          • I didn’t mean to imply that Gina wants to sit on the Board of the RBA, I meant that Corbett does…!! (read the Beecher article).

            What’s in it for Gina? Bound to be a reason, whatever it is obviously one worth pursuing, benevolence not my first thought – at least not initially.

          • No I didn’t think you were implying that she wanted to sit on the RBA board, but having an ally there would be helpful.

            I just don’t see the benefit for her – only pain from my perspective. Why doesn’t she buy MB for a song and then launch her assault from here?

            That might work.

          • A few $Mill in your pocket, you could write your editorials from the snow white beaches of Barbados.

            How good does it get?

          • dumb_non_economist

            2d, surely you’re not pretending to have no idea what GR would be seeking from Fairfax?

            I don’t understand why anyone would be considering her involvement in Fairfax as a purely financial move, other than the blindingly obvious one.

      • Quite correct. And if shareholders don’t like his performance, they can always sell their shares.

        Right, astroturfer?

      • “Pinot noir assumptive populist caricature at best”

        Well now, ain’t that an interesting bit of humbug!

        I recall a few weeks ago, 3d, you had a photograph of Julia Gillard in your ever-changing avatar.

        It was taken just after she had stepped off a plane, returning from an overseas conference.

        She was dishevelled, had obvious bags under her eyes, her mouth was drooping at the sides, and in general she looked completely buggered.
        Not exactly what you’d call a flattering image of a lady….but then, that was the intent, wasn’t it?

        What kind of “assumptive populist caricature” was that…and which bottle of fine red would you recommend to go with it?

        You’re not nearly as clever as you think you are.

  5. That sort of letter needs to be written to many many companies.

    what are your targets ?
    why can’t you acheive them ?
    what equity stake do you have if it fails ?

    options ????
    share consolidation might be rogers answer ??
    share buy back (particularly Gina’s)

  6. An interesting letter. I wonder if under current federal laws its legal to prevent other directors obtaining professional advice. I would hazard a guess its not.

  7. I don’t get this ‘charter’ stuff. Since when do employees of a business have the right to tell its owners what they can or cannot do? With that mind-set, its no wonder Fairfax is in trouble.

    • russellsmith55

      Glad you asked! The charter is not about employees telling the owners what to do; its more about preventing wealthy interests buying into the company to exert influence over the content that is published. It’s purpose is to protect journalistic integrity – because a news source without credibility will at best command a niche market of people aligned with the specific agenda.

      • Which other media entities operating in Australia have such a charter? Was the charter successful in ensuring a Fairfax media free from the influence of the powerful property sector?

        • To be clear for everyone. 3d1k is an astroturfer in the paid service of the mining industry.

          And in that knowledge if you find his pontificating about free speech a little nauseating, trust your gut.

        • russellsmith55

          I honestly can’t say, but I know I don’t trust very much of what News Corp prints because of their ownership/affiliations.

          It didn’t stop the powerful property sector, which is a horrible shame. With their Domain.com.au division, they willingly got into bed with them. So not sure why we’d want to be complicit in the rise of the mining sector’s influence?

          And HnH it’s ok to talk to Astroturfers, as long as the non-agenda arguments are still being published and readable too 🙂 I think addressed astro-turfer arguments work more against them than silence, because it gets all the arguments out there for the casual reader (that will hopefully make up their own mind).

          • Russell,

            Final para……spot on.

            Let ’em talk.

            Let’s face it, you need to open your mouth up really wide in order to get both feet in.

            I think the Bard summed it up, when he wrote:

            “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

      • “because a news source without credibility will at best command a niche market of people aligned with the specific agenda.”

        And therin lies the problem… Fairfax have turned a huge market into a “niche market of people aligned with the specific agenda.”

        And the rest of us will not pay 2 bucks for the crap printed therein… Its really quite simple, the content is crap!!!!

  8. I think people might be underestimating the impact of smart phones and tablets.

    Prior to acquring one of each i never paid for content unless it was on paper.

    Now i find i am choking on the volume of electronic content that i have paid for.

    It is just so easy to click and buy a book or subscription or a single issue.

    God forbid i even have a SMH sub for the first time ever – the app that looks like the paper.

    In 5 years full content free websites might be a rarity.

    I would not have thought that even 12 months ago.

    • russellsmith55

      Micro-transactions might breathe some life into them. I’m an ex games industry programmer, and I’ve heard a lot from my ex colleagues how much the industry is shifting so heavily into micro-transactions through downloadable content, better armour/weapons, buying ‘extra lives’ etc. In Diablo 3, Blizzard have created an ebay type of marketplace for people to buy/sell in game artefacts to each other (which Blizzard take a rake from of course!).

      Interaction with news is of course a different beast to interaction with a game, but I’m sure some of the lessons learned can be applied. People won’t always take the freemium option if there is some differentiating advantage at the right price.

      • Agree – judging from the passion about journalistic standards it seems likely that there would be plenty of demand for reliable sources.

        If Gina did take over and the world ended, easy to see a group of ex Fairfax jounos setting up a news app and flogging it to all those people who swear they would not read a Gina Mining Herald.

        If there was a good MB app at the right price with a few extra features ( say a references section with key charts etc) over the free version, i would be in like Flynn!

        The free version is critical though – so i can send people somewhere.

        • russellsmith55

          The ‘Gina Mining Herald’, awesome. I think you just invented the definitive phrase to describe Fairfax’s future without the charter.

          • Based on the usual stories on the website it should be the Sex’n’Murder Herald

    • McPaddyMEMBER

      Well, to me, that was a very measured and comparatively intelligent and nuanced response to a bully who has been very lucky but mistakes luck for extraordinary ability. May the best “man” win, I suppose. Don’t expect you to agree with me on this 3d1k.

  9. MsSolarFelineAU

    If you want something in life, you’ve got to pay for it. (this is in response to content-apps)

    Gina Rinehart wants to take over Fairfax to push her own interests.

    • Gina Rinehart wants to take over Fairfax to push her own interests.

      Yes she does and she will fail. Even if she succeeds where Conrad Black — another proprietor who had ambitions to reshape Fairfax — failed, she will still ultimately fail. Because advertisers and readers will desert. You can’t have two right-wing broadsheets in a market our size. They will cannibalize each other. She has made a terrible error of judgement and her reputation will suffer. This whole debacle reeks of someone who simply has more money than sense.

      • dumb_non_economist

        I wouldn’t have thought Gina would give a hoot about lost revenue, the company could lose money hand over fist and it wouldn’t bother her one bit. All she wants is masthead with which to change opinion in this country to further her agenda, which happens to be cheap and plentiful Asian labour and minimal taxes. The way I see it she believes she is the anointed one.

        You only need to look at the way she has treated her children for an idea of how she’ll conduct herself.

        • Forrest GumpMEMBER

          Hi dumb_non_economist. I assume the information that you have gleaned from your comment above has been derived from…umm…that same trusting media? How can you be so sure that she has ill treated her children? At least one of her children (her daughter) disagrees with you. But your source is…umm the media right? And if the media doesnt like someone (eg Gina) then their stories are sure to be biased. right? The media always has its own agenda and its on leanings. The property market for example has a heavy influence on the media, by virtue they are big advertisers with news papers. Hence, the incessant almost daily “advertorials” by developers, UDIA, HIA, Domain, REIV, REIWA and the host of other Fairfax sponsors results in the media only portraying a postitive and bouyant housing market. So putting this back in persective, Gina may choose to use her own money to support her position on the mining tax. And if she does, well, whats the difference to her doing that compared to the vested interests in housing doing the same thing? In Gina’s defence, she will only provide the other side of the argument against the Mining tax (at her own cost) while the government uses our taxes to support their argument. Fair call?

          • dumb_non_economist

            Hi Forrest, frankly I couldn’t give a FF what Gina does with her money! However I do if she intends to use a newspaper to persuade public opinion to her cause and if you don’t understand the difference of her using her money as in the resources tax advertisement compared to having a newspaper run a campaign on her behalf I can’t help you.

            To be honest I don’t get your analogy with regards to advertorials and Gina’s dispute with her children. While I wouldn’t trust the media there is enough about the make up of the trust out there that would suggest the media take may be reasonable. My attitude towards her isn’t from the dispute with her poor rich kids, but derived from what I’ve seen of her over the last 15+ yrs. She has a long history, look it up!

          • Forrest GumpMEMBER

            Hi Dumb-non-eco. Please enlighten me if you will, as to why do give a “FF” about someone spending her own money to persuade public opinion? I see governemnts doing it all the time. I see Juliar Gillard using your taxes to promote a range of her own opinions into new taxes and policies, not just the mining tax nor the carbon tax. I see the HIA, UDIA, real estate agents, developers and the housing spruiking engine promoting a lifeless housing industry by providing misleading data that leads people into 25 years of debt and negative equity. One would assume that you also give a “FF” about these issues also…right? Ohh, by the way, I took your advice and looked up the number of public speaches and media releases made by Gina R. Other than the current issue at hand (Fairfax media) I am void of finding other media releases made by GR. It appears she rarely uses the media as her shouting board and moreover, it appears the “Media SHy GR” rarely uses the media as her tool. Perhaps my google skills are not as good as yours? http://www.smh.com.au/business/rineharts-fairfax-buy-may-delay-media-reforms-20120201-1qsic.html

          • dumb_non_economist

            Hi FG,

            Like I said I don’t give a when it’s her own money and in her own name! If she had no agenda why would she wish to do it via ownership of media assets and not herself publicly as she did with the resources tax?

            As to the various RE institutes etc they are completely different issues and as to gov spending on publicising what it’s doing, well I guess it’s a poor argument that all govs have made in that they are “informing” the public what they are up to.

            To be honest I can’t see why you would confuse your issues as being one and the same.

            If all you know of Gina is what is recent I can’t help you.

  10. McPaddyMEMBER

    She should employ ghost writers. Doesn’t come across as particularly bright in that letter. Reminds me of Mr. Palmer.

  11. astonishing….it is possible to make Oz even more boring….first a ‘rupert’, then a ‘gina’, and now ‘the real world’, how very creative 3d1k….there’s a future for you in newspapers

  12. I’m truly bemused by the hoopla surrounding all this. Gina Reinhart owns almost a fifth of Fairfax, she’s the largest shareholder, why wouldn’t she be entitled to seek board representation? If she needs to acquire more the company to get it, then so be it, she’s free to throw as much of her tenuous paper billions at it as she can. It’s just a bad investment, plain and simple. If she’s not worried about financial return, and rather seeks to influence the national discourse, then it’s an even worse investment. It has to be one of the most starkly self-defeating exercises I’ve ever seen. She may as well be buying up the nation’s radio stations.

    Why are people so outraged? Is it simply her nerve, her audacity?

    • dumb_non_economist

      MJV, if she wants more than 20% doesn’t she have to make an offer to all shareholders?

      • Yes I believe so. Although, I understand you can breach the 20% threshold by no more than 3% of voting power if you already hold 19% of the company. An expert would ned to verify that, and I doubt such a ‘creeping acquisition’ would gel with Gina’s M.O.

        • dumb_non_economist

          MJV,

          If her intent was to buy Fairfax and rename the SMH the GRH, I would agree with you. However, I doubt she is that silly that she is just going to go from position the group has to the other. I would suggest she’d want influence over editorial direction that would be subtle, the group I thought covered radio as well, which stations and type (news or pop) I don’t know, but it would give her additional influence I’d have thought. I also don’t think it’s a bright idea to just hope for the best, so unlike you I don’t feel it’s a load of hoopla over nothing.

          • Fairfax mastheads are dying, with or without Gina. If she takes control of them, she’d need to adjust their appeal in some way that makes secures their future, otherwise they have no long-term prospect to influencing public discourse. But, if she begins altering editorial policy in even subtle ways, readers will notice instantly, given how high-profile this has all been, and the departing droves will become even more voluminous. Hence, it is a self-defeating exercise, pure hubris.

            The future of opinion-setting media is small-scale, online forums with clearly-enunciated agendas, increasingly concentrated into ideological camps. There is no way to ‘control’ the debate in such a fractious environment. The price is that people cluster inside online intellectual monocultures. Regardless of whether you think this is good or bad, it’s happening and Gina has woefully misread the times if she thinks she can dominate the debate by gobbling up dying print media. Her arrogance is her nemesis.

          • “So Gina controlling Fairfax, or Ten, doesn’t unduly concern me. That’s the free market, right? ”

            http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/mining-the-depths-of-rineharts-life-is-very-frightening/story-e6frezz0-1226413124583

            You might find yourself in the (more enlightened) Paul Howes camp then – ‘get over the ownership hand-wringing, it doesn’t matter’ but Ms Rinehart’s contribution in no way guarantees success…?

            And it may be that any editorial tweaking proves a major improvement – think the dilemma re polling showing that joe public is over the hearing about the whole climate change thing, the tide may be turning.

  13. I find this exchange sad. 3D is a troll/Astroturfer, thats a gimme. Entertaining at times.

    What’s been achieved above?

    Wht are we debating with a paid astroturfer?

    Its his existence. DON’T TOUCH IT AND IT GOES AWAY.

  14. Media influence is important and some know it.
    I wonder how grant Hackett would have went doing an interview with channel 7 say. Odd 9 has been so accommodating. Who knows maybe its just poor journalism

  15. As Mr Corbett pointed out in his letter this is all about Gina gaining control of Fairfax without paying a premium.

    If she wants control – launch a takeover.

  16. is there anyone or any company that can own a media business and not have a political vested interest (no matter if they exercise it or not…)

    Seems like the latte crowd on this site, which is innumerable, have a severe bouts of schadenfreude, tall poppy, to anything mining.

    The intolerance of you ‘progressives’ is mind boggling, a little more self introspection is long overdue