Air Australia and total media FAIL Plane Talking included
The disclosure today at the creditors meeting that Air Australia had debts of up to $90 million and only $440,000 in cash when it went bust is a huge embarrassment to the media, including Plane Talking.
There are a number of general media stories in circulation, but no apologies for a lack of forensic reporting prior to this disaster.
My excuse. I thought Michael James was struggling to score nil in terms of public profile and relevance and thus didn’t merit media oxygen, I didn’t want to bag a battler, and I made sure I refused all invitations for free flights and parties, including a Christmas shopping trip to Honolulu when those flights began in December.
It’s a poor excuse. The time to have gone in hard was the rebranding of the carrier from Strategic to Air Australia, and the next opportunity was the withdrawal of insolvency insurance at the end of November, which I did report and pursue, as did The Australian, and which then went further at the end of December by revealing that James had approached a convicted criminal, Geoffrey Edelsten, to be a white knight and put up some money, which must have been an act of desperation to keep the operation on life support.
But that seemed to be the extent of media probing. Some good work done too late.
The only way the media could consider itself successful in relation to Air Australia would have been to have accelerated its failure, and prevented some of the losses it inflicted on the gullible or trusting, whichever term you prefer.
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