The threat of cheques is everywhere: for
the miners, for Beaconsfield and for the family of Larry Knight. But
that’s only part of the raining cash being doled out by the media for
newsworthy stories at the moment.

Woman’s Day today has a
“story” based on what seemed to be a few words with one of the
relatives of the Beaconsfield miners: a stopper story of sorts designed
to give the impression that the yarn was “exclusive” when it wasn’t.
You can bet no money changed hands for that one, not with Eddie McGuire
and bigger fish up the PBL chain sweating on a deal with the miners
themselves.

But is this a clue about the way the deal will go? Published in this week’s New Idea (owned by Seven’s Pacific Magazines) was this story:

The wife of trapped miner Brant Webb was convinced her
husband was alive all through his two-week ordeal in which she
communicated with him by telepathy, her father says in a diary.

Excerpts from the diary, written by Mr Webb’s father-in-law Michael Kelly and published in New Idea
magazine this week, revealed his daughter Rachel appeared to know Mr
Webb was alive before he and Todd Russell were found in the
Beaconsfield gold mine.

Either that one got away from
Seven and Nine or it’s a hint to where the deal might be heading.
Certainly you can understand the Woman’s Day ‘stopper’ story when rival New Idea had this yarn.

But what about the rescuers? It would seem some have told their stories with little or no cash involved.

Take Peter ‘Hatsy’ Hatswell, the mining rescue leader referred to by both miners in their Footy Show comments last week. There he was
in News Ltd Sunday papers yesterday telling his side of the story. And
on Saturday, there was the explosives man from the rescue, Darren
Flanagan, telling his story, as were other rescuers on Nine News and on
the affiliated Ninemsn website.

Most if not all the stories have been news stories and not paid for.

The
real killer deal will be with the two miners, Todd Russell and Brant
Martin, but then there’s the video and still photographs taken down the
mine around the rescue during the nine days of tunnelling and talking
to the miners and chat among the rescue teams.

That’s currently under lock and key
with a Beaconsfield health and safety manager, with its ownership still
to be determined. The company says it’s keeping the material for the
coroner, while the AWU says it should be given to both men. The company
is being cautious, but if the material hasn’t been called for by the
coroner, it can be used in the public arena, or given to the miners.

More
than anything, these pictures and video material will boost the value
of the miners’ story. But they could also devalue it if they aren’t
available or if they get into the hands of someone else.

The
coronial inquiry could put a complete halt to the media exploitation of
the story – in Tasmania. But on the mainland? No way!

Peter Fray

Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey.

This extraordinary year is almost at an end. But we know that time waits for no one, and we won’t either. This is the time to get on board with Crikey.

For a limited time only, choose what you pay for a year of Crikey.

Save up to 50% or dig deeper so we can dig deeper.

See you in 2021.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

SAVE 50%