Aug 16, 2012

Smith v Murdoch, others — an excess of vanity publishing

Launching: Dick Smith’s Magazine of Forbidden Ideas That You Won’t Read About in the Mainstream Media. Even in today’s depressed print market it's a curious offering, writes David Salter.

Dick Smith likes to remind everyone that he was “hopeless” at school. It’s a claim few would dispute. But the unspoken message behind his boast is that education — and, by inference, educated people — can’t really know much because he quickly went on to become a millionaire.

It’s this anti-intellectual streak that seems to motivate much of Smith’s current scattershot campaign against over-population, foreign ownership, and — without a hint of self-knowledge — what he calls “the widening gap between rich and poor”. What is it about wealthy, middle-aged, self-made men that makes them think (once they’ve made their pile), that they know what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it?

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7 thoughts on “Smith v Murdoch, others — an excess of vanity publishing

  1. wyane

    True story: Like any other regular Thursday morning, just after breakky I took the Business/Sport section of my SMH to the bogger with me (admittedly to the read the sport).
    My first thought when this wee rag feel onto my slippers was, “Oh bummer, Dick, you’ve used glossy paper.” So I reached for a new roll. Made in China from non-plantation paper. Crap all over however you look at it really.

  2. zut alors

    David, I’m giving him the benefit of doubt in suggesting the ‘Nelly’ mis-spelling was to get around copyright.

    If Dick Smith chooses to inject $$$ into a languishing publishing industry good on him.

  3. Nightingale John

    Having shared a classroom with Dick for five years at North Sydney Tech High I can vouch for his ‘hopeless at school’ claim, but it wasn’t for lack of brains, just lack of belief that it was worthwhile spending the effort – there were better things to do as far as he was concerned. While he did ruin my crystal set trying to turn it into a trannie, his mind was razor sharp on what he did think important.
    But while a few people can prosper on that sort of smartness, not everyone can. The intellect is required, obviously, to provide the basis on which the entrepreneurs and tinkerers can work. He must know that without the PhDs and Nobel prize winners, the advance of knowledge comes to a halt and entrepreneurs are left with nothing to make money about. But I’m getting a sneaking feeling that Mr Dick is going a bit balmy in his middle age…

  4. Robert Pullan

    David Salter says Dick Smith’s message behind his ‘boast’ of being hopeless at school is that ‘education and by inference educated people can’t really know much.’
    Smith didn’t say that. Salter made it up.
    When you report people saying things they have in fact not said, David, you degrade standards.
    Aren’t standards what you are on about?

  5. David R

    I find Dick Smith a somewhat curious figure and agree with the main sentiments of this article. However, some important background missing from the article is that News Limited refused to insert Dick’s magazine into its newspapers and commercial television refused to air an ad for Dick Smith Foods.

  6. Gavin Moodie

    But Salter didn’t write that. He wrote: ‘the unspoken message behind his boast is that education . . .’ – the ‘unspoken’ bit is crucial. More correct would be a criticism of Salter’s poor construction of the sentence.

  7. daveb

    This article sounded like sour grapes and tall poppy syndrome. Sure most of the magazine was obviously trying to sell his re-launched Dick Smith Foods. But Why state the obvious? Perhaps you should try attacking Dick’s arguments and ideas, rather than attacking the man himself. Here is one of Australia’s most philanthropic millionaires, who has noble intentions and is passionate about the long-term environmental sustainability of Australia. He cares deeply about the environment and the two biggest crises facing it – overpopulation and the related anthropogenic climate change – and here you are being snide about it all. Why not focus on those disgraces Gina, Twiggy and Clive, who put their own billions and self interest ahead of the environment.

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