Monday, July 29, 2013

A keening and a moaning at Fairfax, but very little sense ...

(Above: some class warfare jokes to set the mood for Monday, click to enlarge)

Only two clicks to go until the end of the month - reserved for generally grumpy Sheehan, and tomorrow, Hendo, the man who prattles more than Polonius - and without unseemly gloating, the pond has been handling the Fairfax paywall with startling ease.

Oh sure, The Guardian's downunder version still has the ineluctable smell of English-ness about it, such that the pond has been reverting to the UK edition, but since loon-hunting is the name of the game, when in doubt, there's always the United States, an enormous loon paradise from democratic weiners to republican kingly racists.

Courtesy Firefox, the pond was hoping to score a screencap of the Fairfax paywall, proving the preposterous notion that they would dare to attempt to charge - or even demand an email address - for the pleasure of accessing generally grumpy Sheehan.

But strangely, the warning popped up yesterday, and yet today all was forgiven, and the pond was rushed into the presence of the general grump without even a by your leave.

Naturally this is exactly the sort of cavalier treatment with which the pond up will not put, so instead we  detoured into "a note from the Fairfax Media CEO".

Oh the poor dears, they must be really hurting, because it turns out the note is a bit like the ones some Romans scribbled while personning Hadrian's Wall, while the Picts and the Celts, barbarians the lot of them, chanted and painted their faces in blue (sorry, the pond wasted an hour or so watching Centurion the other night, though not so much a waste as watching Tom Cruise evoke a sense of Oblivion).

For a moment, perhaps a nano second, the pond felt vaguely guilty at the cheap and easy ride it had indulged in, at the expense of these fearless crusaders for the poor and the powerless, at least until it remembered that this was the home of the routinely biased Peter Hartcher and editor's pick Paul 'generally grumpy' Sheehan.

But you can tell when a rag's in trouble, and that's when it veers into the maudlin, the sentimental, and the tragically righteous, and the amazingly triumphalist, and by golly, the CEO's note has that it spades

For 182 years the Herald has exposed corruption, protected the vulnerable, pursued growth for all and embraced an optimistic vision for the nation based on a contest of ideas.

Nonsensical really, especially if you can remember the days when Fairfax might more properly have been called the Eastern Suburbs Bugle, and routinely followed the most conservative line about the need for the vulnerable to be spent down coal mine and spend a decent 12 hour day working at face...

The real problem, of course, is that, back in the day, Fairfax felt invulnerable, and then starting with young Warwick way back when, bungled its business, and then in the shift to digital, bungled its business model, and others took a hand in stripping of its classified advertisements, and its mortal Eastern suburbs enemies - the Murdochs and the Packers - took the chance to turn a dollar.

The result? Well images of a bad karaoke version of Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive in a bad re-make of Priscilla immediately swarmed into view:

For the sake of those who value democracy and a proudly Australian voice, let's hope not. Fairfax made mistakes along the way. No one in the myriad media organisations that have vanished or struggled can deny that. But Fairfax survives.

Go on now, go walk out the door
Just turn around now
'cause you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
Did you think I'd crumble?
Did you think I'd lay down and die?
Oh no, not I
I will survive ...

And so on.

Well Greg Hywood has now laid down the challenge:

Contrast this to the Murdoch empire's rejection of internal dissent and insistence on groupthink; to Kerry Packer's intolerance of criticism and his son's ''hatred, hatred, hatred, hatred'' outburst in describing his motivations against Fairfax. Contrast it to the Herald's ability to give credit where it is due and play every issue on its merits. 
To the chagrin of Packer and Murdoch, the Herald's team of fearless journalists remains a thorn in the side; a check and balance on the extremes of power; a challenge to the cosy status quo; a rival that cannot be paid off; in essence that most dangerous of ideas, free speech in pursuit of the public interest.

Oh yes, it all sounds fine and noble. Fearless, check and balance, incorruptible, no groupthink, no hatred, playing each ball on its merits like an Australian batsman, above all challenging, challenging ...

So tell the pond about your team:

Kate McClymont, Adele Ferguson, Linton Besser, Peter Hartcher and so many more - let no businessman or politician say their work and that of countless other Fairfax journalists has not made this country a better and more civilised place.

Hang on, hang on, wind that back a little.

Peter Hartcher?

The very same Peter Hartcher that featured so prominently in Kerry-Anne Walsh's The Stalking of Julia Gillard? The very same Hartcher whom Mark Latham called "the equivalent of Rudd's press secretary, a political agent masquerading as an independent reporter". And whom the pond had independently decided was unreadable, so relentless was his monomania (read his tragic attempt at a defence in Peter Hartcher responds to Kerry-Anne Walsh book on Kevin Rudd, may be pay wall affected).

Forget Murdoch, Hartcher was his owb one one-man band of groupthink.

Never mind, then we came to the close, we cop an outburst which could be construed as a wail or a delusional cry of pain, as if somehow the fate of Fairfax was spot welded to the fate of the nation:

... you still have a choice about what sort of country Australia should be. It can be one where the commercial interests of Packer and Murdoch prevail, self-satisfied and free of scrutiny. The other is one where, as the first Herald editorial said in 1831, editorial management of newspapers is conducted upon principles of candour, honesty and honour. Where respect and deference are paid to all classes. Freedom of thinking. No wish to mislead. No interests to gratify. Dissent with respect, to establish a principle. 
 By these sentiments we shall be guided, and, whether friends or foes, by these we shall judge others; we have a right, therefore, to expect that by these we shall be judged.

No interests to gratify? Not even the shareholders, panting with fear?

Uh huh, okay, you can guess by now the pond has been dissembling, procrastinating, dilly-dallying, so let's head off to Paul "generally grumpy" Sheehan, routinely the editor's pick, routinely a far right froth and foam machine, and see how we shall judge.

Oh yes, they must be really feeling the heat at Fairfax, because the man who routinely bashes lazy Celts and the British and European and Greek diseases (you know, workers expecting decent pay for a day's work, instead of being taxed to support dissolute German bankers) suddenly decides to scribble Callous capitalism: endless insecurity.

Surely this is code for callous capitalism: endless insecurity at Fairfax.

It's as if Sheehan has completely forgotten all his support for John Howard and the rest of the gang as they talked about the need for a flexible labor market, and the needs of employers, and the benefits of contracts to produce said flexibility and satisfy said market-driven needs.

Suddenly the sky has fallen in on Chicken Little:

Corporations, private and public, are increasingly outsourcing, offshoring, subcontracting, casualising or downsizing their workforce. Or all of the above. The most soulless corporations engage in a practice called ''managing out'', where the bottom 20 per cent of staff, as measured by KPIs, are pushed out of the company. 
Call it the imperatives of the unforgiving marketplace. Call it structural change. Or the rising velocity of innovation, or the accelerating cycle of obsolescence. Call it gimlet-eyed greed. Just don't call it by that impregnably pompous corporate euphemism of ''challenging''. 

Well actually given Sheehan's penchant for the labor policies of the Liberal party, and his love of union bashing with a piece of 2 be 4, and his desire to see Tony Abbott lodged in the Lodge, we'll just call it outrageous rank hypocrisy by an impregnably pompous man who blows every which way without a thought for coherence and consistency.

That becomes clear as we read on.

Astonishingly, it turns out that Sheehan manages to blame everyone and everything rather than callous capitalism.

It seems all these capitalist shenanigans are actually all the fault of the unions and anti-bullying laws and unfair dismissal provisions (because you know it's fair to have unfair dismissals) and people wanting to protect the rights of workers, which leads to the European disease, and hapless employers baulking at taking on permanent employees because, you know, they might not be able to exploit the shit out of them, and the Labor government for faking the figures, as if Queensland's Campbell Newman has done a sterling job for employment in his state, and Labor allowing so much immigration, and governments no longer doing infrastructure, and that's all because of welfare:

Governments can't build infrastructure like they used to because their spending is now dominated by social welfare. In the 1960s less than one in 30 Australians depended on state financial aid as their main source of income. Today that figure is closer to one in five. 

Ah yes, it was so much better in the days of the great depression when government didn't waste time on social welfare. Let them eat rabbits, or maybe locusts ...

By the end of it all, a confusing, incoherent, confused rant, a shriek of pain, the pond returned to that fateful line:

The most soulless corporations engage in a practice called ''managing out'', where the bottom 20 per cent of staff, as measured by KPIs, are pushed out of the company. 


There you go Mr. Hywood, there's the bottom 20 per cent of your staff right there. Is it worth alienating so many of your readers with Sheehan's relentless tosh?

Shouldn't he be feeling a little job insecurity?

The pond would of course be devastated, we need our local loons, but we're up to the impregnably pompous corporate euphemism of "challenging", the challenging of the status quo about which you so eloquently spoke.

We figure there are many more loons you can employ:

Where respect and deference are paid to all classes. 

Said in the best eastern suburbs tones.

....since the beginning of 2012, has run seven articles that discussed the government’s “class warfare” and “class war”, in addition to reporting of the use of the term by Coalition and Labor figures and other contributors to public debate. The Australian Financial Review, a reliable critic of Labor under its current management, has run 10 articles that discuss “class war”, aside from reportage, in that period. The Daily Telegraph has run 21 pieces on “class war” during that time. And The Australian has run 77. (Class warfare in political debate, may be paywall affected)

A final burst from Sheehan:

Nor can we expect government spending to come to the rescue via big infrastructure projects. Australia has become a society where assets once owned by the people via public corporations or private co-operatives have become privatised assets, and many are engaged in oligopoly pricing...

...Future generations may look back with wonder at the era when Australia was a society where most workers had permanent full-time jobs and loyalty between employee and employer was routine.

Uh huh. Well Fairfax, courtesy of the likes of Sheehan, and the AFR, has led the charge to the right, with relentless blather about welfare and the European disease and the uselessness of unions, and the need for a flexible work force, and Gina wanting two dollar a day workers African style ...

... And speaking of big infrastructure projects, in the case of the NBN, the AFR has joined The Australia in relentlessly opposing it, and barely a peep about a second airport for Sydney ...

... And  now the shoe is on the other foot, and the creditors and the baying shareholders are at the door, along with the sneering Murdochs and the Packers, and there's much keening and moaning ...

And bugger all awareness of what they did or why it's turned out this way ...

Waiter, a bowl of jaffas please. The aisles of the local cinema call ...

(Below: and now for something different. Greetings from the parrots of Camperdown, vastly more entertaining characters than the parrots of shock jock radio)


  1. The Packers would prefer to heap misery and bankruptcy on our society than build for the future of Australia you think back when Governments had spine they would borrow to build electrical grids and railways for the benefit of the people now greed is good so we build betting and gambling facilities for who's benefit.
    And now we have men who stand for nothing trying to tell us we do not need a modern communications system Turnbull a man who has filled his pockets not for the benefit of other human kind but for his justification to be able to tell the average Joe how clever he was at being in the right place at the right time.I say what will you leave as a legacy from your opportunistic gambling.

  2. God DP, (if I may call you that), 'I'm gonna join the local amateur operatic society who are planning a performance of The Pirates...

    Well it's better than watching Bolt's Report.


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