The mainstream media’s “impartial and balanced” fig leaves began to slip on January 31, revealing their corporate genitalia for all to see. Australia’s richest person, billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart, had begun buying more shares in Fairfax Media, increasing her stake towards 15% and raising questions about media impartiality. Fairfax journalists scrambled to report the news, tying themselves in knots over how much to admit about the corporate nature of their media outlets and whether Rinehart could have any influence on editorial input.
For many Australians, Fairfax Media is a benign alternative to Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing media empire. Well-meaning people buy Fairfax newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age because they believe they present a fairer picture of the news. But just how fair is Fairfax?