The Australian’s media commentator, Mark Day, isn’t often wrong. In fact, his closeness to News Limited CEO John Hartigan and other powerbrokers is enough by itself to make him worth reading. Plus he is shrewd and experienced, if taking a while to fully grasp what new media might mean.
But last week he took a couple of mis-steps in writing about Fairfax. First, as he acknowledges in his column today, he wrongly attributed the buy up of New Zealand assets to David Kirk’s reign, rather than Fred Hilmer’s.
More surprising, he wrote that JB Fairfax had no journalistic background, which as Fairfax catalogues in a response published in The Australian today (which I haven’t been able to find online), is a pretty fundamental error. JB does understand what journalism is about, and gained some experience in it before climbing the corporate ladder. However for most of his time at Rural Press and more recently at Fairfax, JB Fairfax has let Brian McCarthy run the show and has not visibly asserted himself on behalf of the journos or the journalism. JB’s last crusade for journalism was his venture with Max Suich to found the Independent Monthly. When that failed, JB seems to have lost heart.
More about JB Fairfax’s psychology here.
Those of us who write on media all get it wrong sooner or later, so I am not crowing. My turn has come in the past and will come again. And it goes with the territory that when you get it wrong, your colleagues delight in pointing it out. Sorry about that Mark.
Meanwhile Max Suich by coincidence has his say on what’s wrong with newspaper journalism here today. I don’t entirely agree with him, but that’s for another post.