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."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fairfax staff call on Fairfax owners to cede control over media product (video)

Enclosed is a video prepared by Fairfax staff lobbying for belief that people (or really Fairfax's owners) should "support an independent Fairfax." The question naturally becomes: independent of what?

The independence promoted in this video is the right of employees to report whatever they wish irrespective of the objectives of the business's owners. This begs, however, another important question: are the staff any more independent and impartial than Fairfax's shareholders, or do they suffer from the same human failings and prejudices?

Setting that question aside, the only way for staff to protect the rights they seek is by buying the business, and becoming controlling shareholders, themselves. An owner-operator can then produce whatever media product they want, and the agency conflicts that hamper the company--that is, the potential for disconnects between the interests of staff and owners--disappears. Fairfax is the cheapest it has been in 20 years, so this option is not entirely inconceivable.

Another alternative would be a private equity-backed management buy-out (MBO). But staff would then need to convince rational private equity investors that an "independent Fairfax" was also a "profit-maximising Fairfax"...