The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An ABC Four Corners inquiry into Fairfax?

It has been revealing to observe the string of "feature" style investigations into Fairfax's strongest financial supporter, Gina Rinehart, based on unsubstantiated allegations about her intentions. This culminated in an ABC Four Corners inquiry into Mrs Rinehart's private business affairs, personal family matters, and aspirations with respect to her substantial Fairfax shareholding last night. 

Perhaps I am missing something, but given this is a person who is legally and economically entitled to purchase shares in Fairfax and request board representation commensurate with that investment, and, further, shareholders have the right to determine a business's direction, including whether they wish to delegate to staff unilateral control of the business's product through concepts such as editorial independence, the wave of attacks on, and aspersions cast against, Mrs Rinehart seem to me to be worrying.

I would venture that vastly more important questions for the community to consider are: why has Fairfax's share price fallen circa 90 per cent to two decade lows with billions of dollars of shareholder wealth destroyed; what specific mistakes has Fairfax made, which have led to this outcome and resulted in the sacking of 1,900 hard-working staff; how can these strategic errors be remedied; that is, what are the commercial solutions to Fairfax's current challenges (exempting taxpayer bailouts); and what does Fairfax's experience mean for the future of media and journalism in Australia more generally?

Now these are difficult questions worthy of the typically brave Four Corners program