June 22, 2017 Last Updated 6:24 am

UK newspapers accused of double standard in Mosque attack; Investor sees better outcome for Fairfax Media in spin off

Morning Brief: TNM’s summer break begins later today, so the world of publishing is in your hands now, take good care of it, and we’ll see you on the other side of the Independence Day holiday

This will be the last Morning Brief to appear on TNM until July 5 as the site will shutdown today for a long, and if you ask me, long-deserved summer break. In the past, a break has occurred in order to reassess the merits of the site, or to work on a redesign and relaunch. This time, well, it’s time for a break, and while a reassessment will certainly be taking place, the real goal is simply to reenergize.

Normally, in late June into July, one could expect the news cycle to slow to a crawl. But that won’t be the case now, will it? Today, the Republicans officially unveil the AHCA, with the goal of quickly bringing it to a vote. In the UK, Brexit negotiations have begun in earnest… whatever that actually means.

The logical thing to do, of course, would be for some adult to stand up and say the obvious: going through with this thing makes no sense. Our colleague design and creative consultant David Hicks said as much this morning:

Well, David, that would make too much sense. Our elected officials have decided that it is better to head towards the light of the oncoming train than to simply step aside.



The Washington Post featured a story today on the British press, accusing it of a double standard in the attack a group of Muslim worshipers by a white man. The accusation is that the newspapers would not label him a terrorist, but rather a ‘lone wolf’ or anything else to differentiate him from those they seemingly have no problem calling a terrorist.

That is a bit rich, though. The practice of being hesitant to call any white murderer a terrorist is not exclusive to the UK.

As for the actions of the British press, what they have done to the country is obvious for everyone to see. All one has to say is “Brexit”. But the real question is what is to be done. Rupert Murdoch is about to take over Sky, and when he does it will “Fox News” the news outlet, and then we will all be able to see what happens to a society when it is forced to experience the combination of UK tabloids with Fox News idiocy. It won’t be pretty.

The Washington Post, Adam Taylor:

After attack on London Muslims by a ‘clean-shaven white man,’ British newspapers are accused of double standard

Britain’s newspapers have long been known for their aggressive and uncompromising style, with the tabloids in particular sparking too numerous controversies to list. But in a time of seemingly constant upheaval in Britain, news outlets are facing renewed scrutiny — as well as questions about whether their once-mighty political influence was really so powerful anymore.

Both the Daily Mail and the Sun, Britain’s two best-selling newspapers, had vocally supported right-wing Prime Minister Theresa May and ferociously opposed her left-wing rival, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Yet Corbyn was ultimately able to pull off a stunning electoral turnaround, losing May her parliamentary majority and political stability. Some have reasoned that the event showed that the British tabloids had lost their once-notorious political influence, usurped by social media and left-leaning blogs that often take an anti-mainstream media stance.

The Independent, Rachael Revesz:

London mosque attack: Newspapers are spreading hate, warns Muslim of Council of Britain

“We have national newspapers spreading hate and talking about how less Islam is the answer to terrorism that we face right now.

“These people are spreading hate against Muslims and people might be responding to that hate, talking about less Islam, and [something like this attack] may be the result.”

…“We need to be talking about and tackling homophobia in the same way that we’ve tackled other forms of discriminatory phenomena in this country over the last 20, 30, 40 years.”

The suspect in the latest attack was taken to hospital and will undergo a mental health assessment, according to police.



So, what will be going on for the next almost two weeks that I will be missing by shuttering TNM for a break? Well, besides the AHCA vote, there will be the continuing sale of the Chicago Sun-Times. Also, there is the continuing saga of Fairfax Media in Australia, one of my favorite stories because it involves so many angles.

To quickly recap, Fairfax announced a while back that it intended to spin off its digital real estate service, Domain. Later, a couple of US private equity companies appeared to make a bid on the company as a whole, which publishes several major newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald. But the real prize for the bidders is Domain.

So, today’s story in The Australian (Rupert Murdoch’s paper) was long overdue: the views of a Fairfax investor who really would rather see the spin off proceed, rather than the sale.

Spin offs are highly lucrative for both the shareholders and the management team that execute them. That is why so many of them have taken place. Those involved end up with stock in both companies, and the management team often gets a bonus for their efforts. Everyone win… except the employees and the customers. Ask yourself, just who successful has the Time Inc, Tribune Publishing or Gannett spin offs turned out to be?

Still, Fairfax Media investor Alex Waislitz has a legitimate point to make: private equity companies are in it for short term gains, generally looking to exit their investments within five years. Their entry into the US B2B magazine industry destroyed it, and a number of PEs own newspaper companies, none of which have fared well.

The Australian, Damon Kitney:

Alex Waislitz urges Fairfax to press ahead with Domain spin-off plan

Fairfax Media investor Alex Waislitz has urged the media company to continue to pursue the spin-off of its growing Domain property business despite ongoing negotiations with potential private equity buyers.

In a chairman’s address for his listed Thorney Opportunities Fund (TOP) released this morning, Mr Waislitz questioned why Fairfax (FXJ) would allow a private equity bidder to be only the beneficiary of a value “uplift’’ generated by a restructure of the media company.

“While we at TOP are watching developments in the bidding process very closely, we strongly encourage Fairfax not to give up on its own announced plans to spin off Domain,’’ he told TOP investors.

“After all, private equity never seeks to take control of a company unless it can see a potential exit upside of at least 20 per cent within a few years. If Fairfax can demonstrate that it is the best candidate to realise that additional upside then all existing Fairfax shareholders would get the benefit of any future value uplift rather than just the successful private equity bidder.”

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