On the verge of buying The Economist in the local newsagent yesterday, I noticed a new magazine – Investigate. The spine said this was the first issue of what was billed as “Australia’s new current affairs magazine.” I bought it, and now wish I hadn’t handed over the $7.95.

The listing on the front cover as Miranda Devine as a contributor should have rung warning bells, even if the cover photo of Peter Costello did not. But hey, media entrepreneurs deserve a bit of a go. The content soon made me realise my mistake.

The questions for Costello included such Centre for Independent Studies gems as, “do you think government plays too big a role”, and, “does over-regulation hurt the economy,” and “what role do churches and other faith-based organisations have to play?”

A couple of the features were more appealing, and both indicating a few minutes of internet research on the incidence and causes of road deaths among drivers with provisional licences, and the roadside marijuana and amphetamines testing by the Victorian coppers.

The columnists were more alarming: apart from Devine, these included Ann Coulter, lifted from the US syndicator and published weeks late; propaganda from the editor about Iraq’s election; a couple bashes at local film makers, and a consensus across the magazine that our society is insufficiently libertarian. I suppose you could call it a niche.

But who are this crew: the editor, James Morrow (a former White House correspondent, not less); managing editor, Ian Wishart, and chief executive, Heidi Wishart. It turns out they’ve published a parallel magazine, also called Investigate in New Zealand for a few years. Recent cover stories include, “Does abortion cause breast cancer?”, and “Helen Clark: the unauthorised biography”, and “Don Brash: National’s man of steel.”

Ian Wishart set up a niche publishing company in NZ called Howling At The Moon; has written a book on the NZ “winebox” tax avoidance case, and another conspiracy book about a bloke killed in a car crash near Auckland’s harbour bridge one night. Maybe there’s a market for this tosh. Then again, maybe not.


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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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