Editorial independence at Fairfax? Perhaps not.

Greg Hoffman ponders a surprising confluence of items in today's AFR and what it says about editorial independence.

There’s been a lot of talk about editorial independence at Fairfax in recent months; something the company prides itself on. So the confluence of items in today’s edition of the Australian Financial Review must simply be an uncomfortable-looking coincidence.

The paper’s cover features a flattering picture of a smiling James Packer reclining in a chair, with a smartphone in one hand (the subliminal message is positive; he’s relaxed, yet dynamic).

The editorial accompanying the image is unstintingly optimistic as well. It covers Packer’s plans to build a ‘six star’ hotel in Perth with no reporting of any criticism or the risks it might pose to Packer and Crown's shareholders.

Progressing through the newspaper, we arrive at page 11, a full right-hand page ad (premium real estate for advertisers), washed in a classy dark background colour with just eight words in gold font; ‘PERTH DESERVES A WORLD CLASS 6 STAR HOTEL’.

Flipping the page we find the next full right-hand page ad also happens to be booked to advertise … ‘CROWN TOWERS PERTH ARRIVING 2016’.

We’re sure that buying two full right-hand page ads in Australia’s premier financial newspaper doesn’t give anyone dibs on a favourable front page story. But today’s edition should raise a few eyebrows.

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