In the last few days, Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, has increased her share holding in Fairfax Media to just under 15 percent. She has already bought a share of Channel 10, and it is widely suggested that she hopes to use her newpaper and television interests to help shape the political debate in such areas as mining policy, taxation and climate change. Another mining magnate, Clive Palmer, has also mused – perhaps not very seriously – about buying into newspapers, or starting up a new one of his own.
Ever since the first barbarian employed the first bard to sing his praises, there has been a link between media and politics, but the link has shifted lately. People like Silvio Berlusconi – or Donald Trump? – made their fortunes from the media first, then used these millions to carve out a place in politics.
In the age of the internet, though, the old media no longer generates a fortune, so that for Gina Rinehart or Clive Palmer, dabbling in newspapers has become a rich person’s hobby. To these noisy miners (thank you, Annabel Crabb), it’s pin money anyway, and it comes with the glittering prospect of having a significant influence on the public debate.
It’s not a new idea either. Continue reading