Monday, August 18, 2014

Murdoch and News debate ramp up

The headline says it all: "Clive Palmer takes media potshot at Rupert Murdoch with rival publication plan." News challenge Reported in The Age newspaper from Melbourne, the story has a couple of notable points for analysts and critics of the News organization(s).

Clive Palmer is a very wealthy, idiosyncratic mining magnate from the state of Queensland. He gained his wealth from early claims to massive coal fields in that state, which matured with investments from Chinese sources who liked an uninterrupted stream of coal for their growing economy. (He is the guy who is building the Titanic 2. Only in Queensland?!).

Palmer launched his own political party, The Palmer United Party (PUP) in 2013, on the back of a sordid history of anti-Labor Australian nationalists, taking over the United Australia Party. Of course, being a client state - first of England and more recently of the US - there is a role for a healthy nationalist perspective that seeks to preserve national wealth and identity in and for the country and its citizens. This should be more pertinent than it is, given that Australia is an island continent, where it should have been able to develop a unique political economy... but that died out with World War 1.

Indeed, the oeuvre of cultural studies is informed by the idea that ideology (core values) is located in the way people live their lives. Ideology needs to be identified and where necessary contested: that is cultural studies defining characteristic. For example, we don't all live in Los Angeles nor should we imagine ourselves only as west coast Americans.

The nationalist argument is a long and complex one. For example, Lenin's opinions are still debated. Lenin and nationalism-culture questions  In the contemporary scene, the nationalist matter sits awkwardly against questions about globalization.

Meanwhile Clive Palmer has announced that he is setting up a newspaper or a news site that seeks to challenge Rupert Murdoch's The Australian newspaper. This paper is influential - a long-time maker and destroyed of politicians and progressive reform in Australia, as well as an active leader in climate denialism opinion ans pseudo-science.

Its coverage of Palmer and PUP is directly critical to the point of vitriolic. Palmer's response has been to increasingly face opponents like The Australian head-on.

Here's the thing: Palmer and PUP, both as politician and political party are funded by Clive Palmer himself, a mining magnate, who wants positive news about himself and the party. As well as Clive Palmer in the House of Representatives since November 2013, PUP has since June 2014 had three senators in the Australian Senate holding the balance of power. They reject the negative stories, along with the portrayal of the political challenge they have made to the established order of Australian political life. So start a newspaper!

Here is my first point: it you want to enter public life and have massive wealth, should you start your own vanity publication? When is it propaganda?

Here is the point that caught my eye from The Age report. Palmer has asked journalists to report on their work and the editorial decision making at The Australian newspaper, anonymously if necessary.

This is invited whistleblowerdom. Such an approach to journalism marks a significant twist in the Murdoch and News world, perhaps even in the history of Australian journalism. PUP indeed!