Election 2013 media panel

Is Rupert out to get Kevin?

An election isn’t just a contest between political parties, it is also a contest between media outlets. Over time it’ll also become a contest between media platforms. In the meantime, however, there will be strong competition between the various newspapers to provide the better coverage, to have the better interviews, to break the scoops first, and so on.

Competition will occur at a corporate level too. It started even before the election was called - observe this piece by the usually sensible Paul Sheehan.

It turns out that Colin Allan has returned to Australia, from New York, to provide “extra editorial leadership” at Australia’s News Corp papers. That sounds quite ominous. But for whom?

Sheehan suggests that Rupert Murdoch is out to destroy the NBN and to do that needs to destroy Kevin Rudd. Hence increasing the fire-power of the local editorial stance. We’re invited to believe that the local media haven’t done enough to highlight the failings of the Rudd government.

Now there may well be good reasons why the NBN is a challenge to News Corps’ interests but, alas, it is more or less bipartisan policy. Not good policy, mind you, but bipartisan policy. So it isn’t clear that getting rid of Rudd will see the back of the NBN.

It is far more likely that when Rupert Murdoch sends one of his trouble shooters to provide extra leadership that he is dissatisfied with the local leadership - and that’s not (just) Kevin Rudd.

But it is a good story that can be readily believed. News Corp is going hard on the government because they don’t like the NBN. Evil vested interests out to get our Kevin. As opposed to going hard on the government because that’s what newspapers should be doing anyway. It’s not like the NBN hasn’t been plagued by all sorts of problems and is likely to be very costly to the taxpayer. While the government claims the NBN is going to cost $37 billion, Malcolm Turnbull talks about figures around $90 billion. I would hope that newspapers would be covering this issue very closely.

This is a story about the motives of a market competitor that appeals to anti-Murdoch prejudice, but is short on actual facts.