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The Media Barons Behind Crikey

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Crikey is an Australian online news magazine and, despite having been referred to as a 'minnow' and 'independent' by several publications (The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The New Daily), has several large and well connected investors. The site is majority owned by a multimillionaire and is also backed by two established media tycoons. Despite this significant financial backing, Crikey is currently conducting a crowd funding campaign to support their legal defence against Lachlan Murdoch.

Crikey's Financial Background

The website was purchased by former The Sydney Morning Herald editor, Eric Beecher from Liberal Party staffer, Stephen Mayne, for $1 million in 2005. It is now owned by parent company Private Media, which also owns The Mandarin and holds a shareholder capitalisation of more than $20 million. Shareholders of Private Media include Allen & Unwin, HSBC and CEO of Luxury Escapes, Adam Schwab, who also serves as the company director.

Alongside Mr. Schwab and Mr. Beecher (who serves as chairman of Private Media), the company's other major partners include John B. Fairfax and A Cameron O'Reilly. Mr. Fairfax sold his Rural Press to Fairfax Media in 2006 for $1 billion and sold his own stake in Fairfax Media for $193 million 2011. According to David Donovan for Independent Australia, Mr. Fairfax and his immediate family collectively own approximately 30% of Crikey.

Mr. O'Reilly is the former CEO of regional news group, APN, and, similar to John B. Fairfax, is also heir to a news conglomerate, in this case the Irish Independent News and Media, with Mr. O'Reilly's father having been its CEO until 2012. APN sold its suite of newspapers and news websites to News Corp in 2016. Shares in the company are also owned by former ABC journalist and now editor of Meanjin, Jonathan Green, and host of ABC's Media Watch, Paul Barry.

Mr. Donovan for Independent Australia suggested that Crikey should be capable of making their legal defence without requiring reader donations and made a distinction between Australian media publishers based on whether or not they had signed deals with Facebook as part of the government's News Media Bargaining Code:

"It may be thought that Crikey, through their affluent investors and Beecher’s millions after buying Crikey, should be able to pay any reasonable legal fees that may arise – even court actions against other media tycoons – without resorting to asking ordinary Australians to send them cash. But in case there was any doubt, Crikey and two other publications Beecher chairs, New Daily and InDaily, were among the very first publishers to sign deals with Google and Facebook under the previous Government’s media bargaining code. For reference, Facebook has, so far, refused to sign deals with smaller media companies not associated with Eric Beecher, such as Independent Australia."

Sources & Further Reading

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