The “I, Gina” Show Has More Acts To Come

Jul 6, 2012

Life is too short and, so, yes, one has to pause and reflect: why spend time thinking or writing about a loathsome human being? The “I, Gina” show is truly grotesque, a swirl of demented perversion flowing from the twisted mind of one person. But, independent media being the hallmark of a democracy, we can’t just turn our heads from a person best relegated to a seedy peep show in some red-light district.

So, there was a reason, per Adele Ferguson, for yesterday’s sale of 86.5 million shares by Reinhart:

Rinehart is the richest woman in the world and, if her track record is anything to go by, she will never give up – no matter what the cost. In the case of Fairfax, she took a financial hit yesterday as she cranked up her lobbying for up to three board seats and calls for the chairman, Roger Corbett, to meet virtually unattainable performance measures by the annual general meeting or step down.

And:

Her latest move is linked to her wanting to retain the right to sue the directors of the Fairfax board if she becomes a director. The way company insurance policies work is a director holding a shareholding of more than 15 per cent causes problems for the coverage of director and officer insurance. Insurance companies will not cover directors in the event of a spat that results in legal action. Corbett asked Rinehart to sign a waiver that she could not sue her fellow directors. She opted instead to reduce her shareholding to below 15 per cent. [emphasis added]

I just wonder: why would anyone want to remain a director of Fairfax with this lunatic on the loose? You basically now understand this–she wants to be on your board, to mess with the editorial content of the newspapers, AND, if you don’t see it her way, she wants to be able to sue you.

This is the way a lunatic treats the world, whether it be her children or her peers: you are mine, I own you, I decide your life.

Message to Fairfax directors: run for the hills.

 


@jonathantasini

Curtain Comes Down On “I, Gina” Show–For Now

Jun 29, 2012

This is worth coming back to from yesterday. The “I, Gina” show has had its show cut short, at least in the Fairfax boardroom.

Though, in the bigger picture of fair treatment, the Fairfax board is nothing to root for when it cuts the jobs of hundreds of workers but the CEO takes no hit, one has to applaud this:

THE board of Fairfax, publisher of the Herald, has rebuffed Gina Rinehart’s bid for a seat because she will not agree to its charter of editorial independence.

In an explosive statement released late yesterday, Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett made his first public remarks on the mining magnate’s attempts to gain seats on the media group’s board, expressing regret an agreement could not be made ”on terms acceptable to the company”.

”I regret that agreement has not been reached for Mrs Rinehart to join the Fairfax Media board of directors. I hope that this might be possible in the future. However key elements yet to be agreed include acceptance of the charter of editorial independence as it stands and the Fairfax board governance principles as agreed by all existing directors,” Mr Corbett said.

Like The Terminator, the “I, Gina” show will certainly be back because satisfying a twisted ego and narcissism is a feat that never ends. But, for now, it’s worth celebrating.


@jonathantasini

Trust in Newspapers

Jun 25, 2012

Q. How much trust do you have in what you read in the following newspapers?

Total a lot/some

25 Jul 11

Total a lot/some

A lot of trust

Some trust

Not much trust

No trust at all

Don’t know

The Australian

69%

60%

15%

45%

23%

12%

6%

The Telegraph (NSW only)

52%

49%

10%

39%

30%

19%

3%

Sydney Morning Herald (NSW only)

74%

69%

19%

50%

22%

6%

4%

The Age (Victoria only)

79%

76%

20%

56%

18%

5%

1%

Herald Sun (Victoria only)

54%

51%

8%

43%

32%

15%

1%

Courier Mail (Queensland only)

65%

51%

6%

45%

28%

13%

7%

* Note : Percentages based only on respondents who had read each newspaper.

Among those who have read the newspaper, 20% have a lot of trust in The Age and 19% have a lot of trust in the SMH. 15% of readers of The Australian have a lot of trust in the newspaper but only 10% have a lot of trust in The Telegraph and 8% in The Herald Sun.  49% have not much or no trust in The Telegraph and 47% have not much or no trust in The Herald Sun.

Overall, the most trusted newspapers were The Age (76% a lot/some trust) and the SMH (69%). The least trusted were The Telegraph (49% a lot/some trust), the HeraldSun (51%) and the Courier Mail (51%).

Since this question was asked last year, there have been significant declines in trust in the Courier Mail (down 14%) and The Australian (down 9%).

Liberal/National voters (70%) were more likely than Labor voters (48%) to have a lot or some trust in The Australian.

Pay to Access News Websites

Jun 25, 2012

Q. Some newspapers in Australia now require readers to take out a subscription to view all their articles online. This means, while some news and opinion articles are free, readers will have to pay to access all content. How likely would you be to pay a subscription to access news websites?

 

Total

7 Nov 11

Total

Aged

18-34

Aged

35-54

Aged 55+

Read The Aust

Read SMH

Read Tele

Read The Age

Read Herald Sun

Read Courier mail

Total likely

9%

13%

22%

11%

6%

25%

28%

18%

22%

10%

18%

Total not likely

88%

82%

71%

85%

93%

72%

69%

79%

76%

88%

81%

Very likely

2%

3%

5%

3%

1%

12%

7%

6%

5%

4%

5%

Somewhat likely

7%

10%

17%

8%

5%

13%

21%

12%

17%

6%

13%

Not very likely

18%

17%

16%

18%

17%

19%

18%

19%

21%

19%

13%

Not at all likely

70%

65%

55%

67%

76%

53%

51%

60%

55%

69%

68%

Don’t know

4%

5%

7%

5%

*

3%

3%

4%

2%

2%

2%

13% of respondents said they would be very or somewhat likely to pay to access news websites – up from 9% recorded in November last year.

Younger respondents were more likely to be willing to pay for access to news websites – 22% of those aged under 35.

Current readers most likely to pay for access were readers of the SMH (28%), The Australian (25%) and The Age (22%).

Only 10% of HeraldSun readers said they would be likely to pay for access.

“I, Gina”: A Love Affair With Oneself

Jun 22, 2012

The long-running theatrical show “I, Gina” is now spreading its wings at the Sydney Morning Herald. One thing we need to make clear, just so we’re not surprised or shocked: Gina Reinhart does not understand democracy, nor does she care one bit about the future of the nation–except, of course, in the way the nation can help promote the “I, Gina” drama, at the expense of the rest of the peons who scurry about her ankles. For billionaires, it’s always about them. Their power. Their wealth. Their control.

No better illustration of the contradiction between the “I, Gina” philosophy and democracy can be found in the saga playing out at the Sydney Morning Herald. One the one hand, we have Gina, rolling in with more than 18 percent of the stock of the company stuffed in her pockets, demanding, oh, yes, DEMANDING three seats on the board of directors AND the power to hire and fire editors. On the one hand, you could say she is tone deaf to the criticism that she’s trying to eviscerate–silence–the newspaper’s voice, tone deaf because the concern rises up from both sides of the political aisle:

”What this will do is destroy the credibility of the Fairfax mastheads,” said the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy. ”And if you were to start turning it into just a pro-mining industry gazette, well, I don’t think you would say the rest of the shareholders in Fairfax would be too excited about the collapse in readership.”

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull also said the board’s reluctance to give Mrs Rinehart board seats was understandable ”without a commitment to supporting editorial independence . . . If Fairfax, for example, were seen to be a mouthpiece of Gina Rinehart and a ‘spokes vehicle’ for the mining industry that would undermine its business model dramatically.”

But, no, this is not about not hearing other voices. It’s about not caring. The “I, Gina” show, a love affair with oneself, has no interest in a Media Charter of Editorial Independence because it contains words like “city”, “state”, “nation”, “integrity” and “independence”–all of which convey the radical idea that the space we occupy is bigger that “I”. Does not compute!

Of course, that the “I, Gina” show can rampage through the country is the logical end result to promoting a belief that, for the sake of the glorious “free market”, rich people can do as they please. Mostly.

–Jonathan Tasini

They Slashed Their Own Pay, Too, Didn’t They? NOT!!!

Jun 21, 2012

You know how it goes–a company is in financial trouble, it slashes jobs to save money and, of course, the CEOs take a hit along with the regular workers. Slap, slap, slap–wake up! You’re not in Alice-in-Wonderland world. You’re in the real world, the wondrous “free market” where CEO salaries never go down, no matter how bad they screw up. Which brings us to the saga of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

The Herald’s management announced it was going to sack–we prefer not using the Orwellian word “redundant”, since it has a way of making the whole thing sound so neutral and mild–1,900 people, for an alleged savings, along with other measures (principally, making people pay for access to the website) of $235 million by 2015. But, not a problem for chief executive Greg Hywood, who is not taking a financial hit and is doing quite well, thank you very much:

Mr McCarthy’s replacement, Greg Hywood, got $1.5 million for his six months in the job last financial year, while he is now eligible for a bonus of 150 per cent of his $1.6 million base salary.

Not to mention the deep pockets of one mining billionaire named Gina who is determined, we think, to wake up one shining day to be greeted with the banner headline “Sydney Mining Herald.”

Not to be outdone in the shameless category, The Australian is going to slash 70 percent of its divisions–but somehow the Rupe found $2 billion to double his takes in Foxtel. But, have we heard of any cuts at all in Rupe’s pay ($33 million USD in 2011) or any of his other top underlings. We find out a little more of the life the Rupe leads, while he’s cutting the pay of others, from this wet-kiss profile of Wendi Deng (Murdoch) in The New York Times:

She used to wash her clothes and face with the same soap, said a 2008 Vogue article, and seldom wore makeup, much less luxuriated in the perks of privilege — like the private yoga classes with her friends Kathy Freston and Arianna Huffington — she indulges in today. At Yale, she would stake out Filene’s Basement to procure designer gowns on the cheap. Today, she is regularly photographed wearing Rodarte and Prada.

Mrs. Murdoch quickly and giddily embraced the trappings of great wealth. While her husband conducted business in various European capitals, she would travel with him and shop for glassware and cutlery and curtains to stock her new homes. In addition to their loft in SoHo, the Murdochs transformed an old hutong in Beijing into a courtyard oasis decorated with art by Chinese artists.

So, there it is: cuts are paid because of “changing conditions” or “new markets” or “new realities” but the story remains the same. The rich rob the workers who create the wealth–and, when things get rocky, the only people taking it in the chin are the very people who had nothing to do with creating the mess.

–Jonathan Tasini