Murdoch strikes again: The sad demise of Climate Spectator

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The Murdoch media strikes again on climate change. And this one hurts.

In late 2009, then Business Spectator boss Alan Kohler was so rapt by the response to a daily column I wrote from the Copenhagen climate summit that he finally agreed to a suggestion I had been pushing for nearly two years – the creation of a specialised site that became Climate Spectator.

It became a powerful and influential voice about the emerging role of renewable energy technologies and the business impact of climate change, a role that was expanded, improved and enhanced when Tristan Edis took over as editor in early 2012.


Six years later, and just days before the world looks to repair the disastrous outcome of Copenhagen by trying to forge a new global deal in Paris, Climate Spectator has been shut down – an apparent victim of budget cuts and editorial indifference from its new owners, Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd.

It’s unfortunate, and very sad. The Murdoch camp has sacrificed one of their most popular columnists in the Business Spectator stable; another media title has folded; and an important voice has been lost in a country where the majority of mainstream media (with a few notable exceptions) expresses an ignorance and a hostility to new technologies that is quite astounding.

Tristan Edis did a magnificent job holding the government and industry to account, countering the misconceptions peddled by the mainstream print, radio and TV media, and even puncturing a few of the wildest claims of the green lobby.

Environment minister Greg Hunt would often carry a dossier of Tristan’s writing to conferences and media events, just on the hope that he could leap on some perceived error in his columns. Tristan’s constant line has been that Direct Action is a load of cobblers and accounting tricks. There is nothing that Hunt has done to prove him wrong.

Tristan was forensic in his criticism of vested interests – the utilities and government policy in particular – and was fearless in his rubbishing of the nonsense written by influential stable-mates such as veteran columnist Terry McCrann and others on the Murdoch pay-roll.

Now, that platform, and the voice of many other fine contributors has been lost. That competition gave us at RenewEconomy some grief, but it was good for us because it kept us on our toes. Our challenge now is not to rest on our laurels, so we will continue to rely on our readers for support, encouragement, advice and criticism.

RenewEconomy will continue, with the support of our readers – averaging more than 200,000 a month – our advertisers, our partners, and our donors, some of whom happily transfer $5 a month – or more – as a sort of voluntary subscription. We thank all of you for that support.

In the short term, I’m off to Paris, along with 6,000 other journalists who applied (but only 3,000 got in). Like Copenhagen, it should be fascinating, and mighty important. And you can guess the line that the Murdoch media will take on it.  

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  • hugh grant

    i agree Giles – Tristan did a magnificent job holding the government and industry to account, providing extremely high quality, fact based, forensic analysis that countered the misinformation and misconceptions peddled by mainstream media and vested interests.

    He would be a wonderful asset to RenewEconomy – rather than just keeping you “on your toes” I suggest that a working partnership with Giles Parkinson and Tristan Edis would be an incredible outcome for informed debate on Australia’s public policy development.

  • orko138

    How can readers donate Giles?Renew should not have to suffer a similar fate

  • Rob

    It doesn’t come as any surprise that Murdoch was the kiss of death for Climate Spectator. The champion of crap and the destroyer of quality strikes again. Climate Spectator was a very welcome and surprising arrival to the Business Spectator stable. All credit to yourself and Alan Kohler for your foresight and perseverance. The articles were greatly appreciated by a grateful readership. Hopefully Tristan can carry on his reporting somewhere else. I guess this makes RenewEconomy all the more precious.

    • lin

      “The champion of crap and the destroyer of quality strikes again.”
      Yep. Murdoch is a complete and utter grub. A pox on his house and on all the gutless politicians who “kneel before him”. It is a shame that the Brits didn’t have the spine to shut him down for what he did over there, or that Rudd/Gillard didn’t introduce some requirement for truth in journalism.

    • Jacob

      One wonders what Murdoch gains from promoting pollution instead of reporting the news.

  • Alastair Leith

    this is a terrible outcome. The Murdoch paywall probably didn’t help Tristan any. Tristan’s writing and that of other contributors was important not just for it’s own intrinsic value but because it was getting in front of the eyeballs of people in financial industries where so many of the myths around RE and indifference about CC is perpetuated.

    Hunt will be grinning from ear to ear I expect.

  • Alex

    Obviously, you should invite Tristan to write for you.

  • Sad.
    And the Koch’s have bought National Geographic.

    • Jacob

      Will the documentaries owned by Nat Geo be destroyed?

  • I really enjoyed Matthew Wright’s columns on Climate Spectator. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge…

  • Damien

    Just donated to RenewEconomy and walking on Sunday. We do what little we can.

  • Chris Fraser

    Sad to hear the news. My surprise is that CS lasted so long in its environment, given the views of its Owner. Congratulations to Tristan on his editorials and to his future success.

  • Geoff

    first national geographic and now this! I can’t wait for Murdoch to croak and only hope that his offspring aren’t as evil as he is…

    • Pedro

      My wife and I were asked to renew our subscription to National Geographic, but wrote a letter back explaining that we could not because we simply can not trust the editorial content any more.

  • Tommyk82 .

    Tristian is a legend. This is sad news.

  • JeffJL

    It is so disappointing to see that Climate Spectator is no more. Reading the ill informed comments and the venom directed at Tristan was always amusing.

    Vale Climate Spectator.

  • mike hamblett

    No sense of responsibility a clear indicator of psychopathic behavior. Anyone who craves power should be sent to psyc hiatrist.

  • Sandra Dibbs

    I will miss Climate Spectator, and can only hope that Tristan finds another position from which to work at keeping the bastards honest.

  • Divergent

    Loved his attacks on geothermal energy. Sorely missed.

  • Miles Harding

    Things must be getting pretty desperate in the Murdoch camp these days.

    Giles, What you are doing is more imprtant than ever now, so I’ve made a donation to RE. This is one form of “Direct Action” we citizens can take in addition to steering our own journeys towards a sustainable future.

    • Miles, Damien, Orko, and all the others that have donated so generously in the last few days (and previously) —- thank you so much. It is very kind and generous and it will help us continue and expand.

  • dhm60

    I was always surprised the flat earth crew kept it Climate Spectator running. I refused to buy a subscription to it after Alan Kohler sold it to Murdoch. I scouted for CS for freebees but would be buggered if I would pay Murdoch a brass razzo for the rest of it. Hire Tristan Edis. His analysis is top notch, not the standard waffle and spruik nonsense.

  • Jacdan59

    Murdoch would not shut a section of the magazine which had enough readership to attract advertisers where revenues was greater than costs. That clearly wasn’t the case for Climate Spectator which was more of a policy platform than a technical read. This of course is reflected in your statement, “Tristan’s constant line has been that Direct Action is a load of cobblers and accounting tricks. There is nothing that Hunt has done to prove him wrong.”

    Isn’t it interesting that the Paris agreement has no emission reduction targets, it has no carbon tax policy or a global emissions trading policy. This is because they have been convinced that emissions can be achieved by direct action at a fraction off the cost. Abbott achieved cuts in CO2 for $14 a ton instead of spending $1,500 a ton.

    One MIT study estimated the cost of abating carbon with wind was about $60 AUD per ton, and the cost of solar was $700 AUD per ton. (Marcantonini, 2013).…/publications/workingpapers/2013-005.pdf

    Another estimate put the price of carbon reduction at South Australian windfarms at $1484 per ton.

    Perhaps the readers were tired of the ‘Direct Action Bashing’?

    They can get all the Tony Abbott and Direct Action bashing they want for free from the ABC, SBS, The Conversation and the Age. You should focus any anger on your writers’s ability to meet the needs of his readers, and the massive crowding out of private media by the expanded and totally unnecessary Government role in this area.

    • What? If Murdoch’s criteria was to make money from his publishing, then he would have closed The Australian years ago, because it does not, as you suggest the criteria to be, have “enough readership to attract advertisers where revenues was greater than costs.”
      And please don’t quote stuff from Jo Nova and other members of the flat earth society.

      • Jacdan59

        You obviously do not understand the difference between a positive cash flow and an accounting loss. The latter takes into account items such as allowable immediate tax write-offs which may in fact be building asset value, as well as depreciation and asset write-downs and transfer charges to other divisions, in this case the printing division.

        The editor in chief of the Australia clarified this point when he said

        “The company as a whole would have $30m worse off without The Australian, i.e. various cost centres that recharge to us, would have been lost and the business as a whole would have made a lot less money,” said Mitchell.

        “Saying that you haven’t made a profit — that means that after all the retail print costs etc. it takes you into the red.”

        “But that is very different from saying if The Oz didn’t exist News Corp would be better off without that loss. In fact it would be $30m worse off because people (other elements of the News Corp Australia business) charge us commercial rates for printers.”

        So you are including the MIT study as part of you ‘flat earth society’ smear? You would also have to include all the verifiable sources which Jo Nova references as part of your imaginary ‘flat earth society’ which apparently includes anyone who you don’t agree with.

        By all means address the points made if you have information which disproves it, but your sneering dismissal without doing so just makes you look arrogant and narrow minded. Attacking the source rather than the content is a desperate tactic of those bereft of any supporting counter arguments.