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Murdoch’s Transplant

by RICHARD NEVILLE

Shock! Horror! Rupert Murdoch’s media discovers an organ previously undetected by News Corp’s proprietor – the human heart. This find has rocked the media empire and its flagship broadsheet, The Australian, forcing it to re-assess its mission. The result is Total Rebranding.

First to go is the motto emblazoned on the masthead: "Keeping the Nation Informed". Focus groups reported that the claim was widely regarded as ironic. Today’s re-branding is built on two pillars of wisdom designed to project the core values associated with Murdoch’s media, even Fox News. These twin pillars are "intellect and compassion". It is reported that guffaws greeted this announcement at the launch party and scores of guests were ejected from the Casino.

In an unprecedented editorial, The Australian is defending its move to copyright the new tagline, the one fashioned from the pillars of intellect and compassion. Critics point out that the paper’s lack of intellect has been notable in its 30 year war against the science of climate change . As for the second strand of the re-brand, ‘compassion’ … as in "compassion for all living beings", this too is thin on the ground at News Corp. It has not been extended to the millions of people killed, orphaned and maimed in the wars promoted by Rupert Murdoch.

Okay, enough carping. Here’s the new motto: THE HEART OF THE NATION

How about that? Grandiose, self important, untrue. Very Murdochian. The authorized explanation for the switch is published below, to which a few unauthorized observations have been highlighted:

The AUSTRALIAN, July 21, 2007: When The Australian was launched 43 years ago last Sunday, the Opera House had not been built, Kruschev was in power in the Soviet Union and the paper cost sixpence. While times have changed, The Australian’s values, articulated on the front page by the proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, have endured (have vanished) and are reaffirmed (are mocked) in the five words that appear underneath our masthead from today – The Heart of the Nation.

In 1964, we promised readers impartial information and independent thinking – but failed to deliver. The editorial stance of a Murdoch organ rarely deviates from the party line. Other newspapers have allowed themselves to be sidetracked by fads such as anti-globalisation instead of recognising that in transcending borders, industry, commerce and science are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in India and China and plunging millions of people into poverty everywhere, at the same time. While cogent arguments can be made on both sides of this debate, only one side is stressed in MurdochWorldTM. As the cult of celebrity and the pursuit of gossip skews the news judgment of some of our competitors and is rife in the Murdoch empire, The Australian is proudly committed to keeping readers abreast not just of news and current affairs but at the cutting edge of developments in business, science, technology, the arts and the world of ideas – some of which is excellent.

We have always been and we still are the only national daily broadsheet newspaper, occupying in every sense the ground at the heart of the nation – how can you occupy the massive area of Australia, while professing to be its heart? Oh, here’s how: Just as the heart pumps life-giving blood around the body – which body? The body corporate, the body politic or Rupert’s body ?…. so we are committed to reporting on, and to, every part of Australia. We have bureaus in every state and territory. We cover the remotest outback, the country towns, the big cities, and we have more foreign bureaus than any other paper in the country – but the slant is always the same: pro White House, militaristic, Islamophobic, angry, humorless, jingoistic, fear mongering …

We get the exclusive interviews with world leaders (your reporters are duchessed, embedded, junketed, dazzled and have read the script, which is why your geopolitical coverage is propaganda. A single issue of VICE Magazine [e.g. vol 4 number 8] offers more insight into Iraq than your rag, and it’s free) and we break all the big stories (except negative ones on your boss and his corporate and political cronies). We print our paper in plants across the length and breadth of the nation – congrats. The heart is the core (you said it was the "ground"…) at the centre of things, the seat of the soul (you said it was the "pump of the blood"). And when the heart and the mind work together the conscience is born, at which time the journalist resigns.

The Australian today is more respected (ridiculed) than at any time in its history. Our competitors are mired in the past, (lighter on their feet, more open minded) harking back to a time when governments made all the decisions for us (when governments were not cajoled by megalomaniac media proprietors to rattle sabres and trash civil liberties). They are, as they have always been, parochial in their outlook, driven by out-dated rivalries and blind… to the merits of your proprietor. Today’s Australians are confident enough to go beyond our borders and take on the best in the world in business, science and the arts. They are, like us, proudly Australian, but unlike your founder, not yet citizens of America … or its servants.
We know that you, our readers, care about what goes on in the world and that that is why you read our paper, before fleeing to more reliable sources and the wild world of the web. That is why we believe that, together, we are the heart of the nation, while others believe you’re its anus.

* * *

On the same weekend this tripe appeared, Murdoch’s organ in Queensland, the Courier Mail, was putting the boot into the ill treated Indian doctor, Mohamed Haneef, trying to link him to a "planned terrorist attack" on a skyscraper, which the police later dismissed as absurd. No presumption of innocence in MurdochWorld™, not for a Sim card wielding Muslim. Heart of the nation? More the soul of a lynch mob.

RICHARD NEVILLE has been around a while. He lives in Australia, the land that formed him. In the Sixties he raised hell in London and published Oz. He can be reached through his very bracing website, www.richardneville.com.au/ He has recently launched: Home Page Daily.

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