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Western Australia

Nov 5, 2012

Where’s Gina? The mysterious case of a disappearing Rinehart

Did The Australian edit out Gina Rinehart from a high-profile photograph showing a murder victim?

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

It’s a brave media outlet that seeks to airbrush Gina Rinehart from the face of the earth, but that’s exactly what The Australian has done.

Crikey‘s highly-tuned Murdoch sensors went into overdrive when we discovered The Oz had apparently photoshopped Rinehart (and two other people) out of a widely-used photograph showing Perth murder victim Corryn Rayney and her husband Lloyd.

The Oz ran the airbrushed pic, which shows the Rayneys enjoying a glass of wine aboard a Hancock Prospecting flight, on Friday with its page three story on the acquittal of Lloyd Rayney over his wife’s murder.

 The Rayneys photo from Fairfax websites (on the left) and in The Australian (right). Where has Gina gone?

The photo most of the media used shows Rinehart gazing serenely out the window, while an unidentified woman slumbers on her shoulder. So did The Oz scrub out the mining titan to shield her delicate sensibilities from being associated with a murder case? But that’s the kind of behaviour we might expect from The Australian Financial Review these days — not The Oz

The Australian‘s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell told Crikey this morning that these are “two different pictures taken from slightly different angles. That is Gina is obscured because the pic is from a slightly different angle.” This got us ever more curious because the photographs’ foregrounds do appear identical — and even if they are slightly different, where did Gina go in between the photographs being taken? Did she parachute from the plane, taking her sleepy companion with her?

Mitchell got back to us later this morning and cleared up the mystery once and for all. The two pictures are indeed the same, but The Oz ran an earlier version of it which had been edited by authorities to remove the people in the background (there are reports elsewhere that the edited pic was issued by authorities in 2007, when Corryn Rayney was a missing person). The authorities later issued the undoctored pic, which (almost all of) the media is now using.

The Oz still had the old pic in their system and inadvertently ran it on Friday. The Australian‘s editor Clive Mathieson, who helped solve the case of the missing Rinehart, said: “It was certainly not a deliberate decision.”

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11 thoughts on “Where’s Gina? The mysterious case of a disappearing Rinehart

  1. Stilgherrian

    Just as an aside, this photo was the subject of a conversation on Twitter just before 7pm Saturday night AEDT (yeah I have no life) between me and Patrick Gray, producer of the Risky Business information security podcast.

    In a tweet timestamped 6.56pm, Patrick links to a July 2012 article in The West Australian explaining all this stuff about the photo.

    So why was Chris Mitchell providing incorrect information about this morning? It’s fairly easy to see that there’s no “two different angles” involved. Surely a leading newspaper journalist would just make up stuff? I’m a bit confused…

  2. drmick

    Looks like it,sounds like it and smells like it. Lucky we didn’t step in it?

  3. Sanjay

    Wow you know how to beat up a story

  4. Peter Shute

    It’s a great mystery why journalists and editors don’t simply say at the beginning they made a mistake, correct it and apologise if necessary and then we can all move on and forget the matter.

    Instead that obfuscate and are loathe to admit they are wrong and then wonder why journalists are below realtors in the credibility stakes.

  5. heavylambs

    Chris and Clive come clean. Pfft.

  6. Edward James

    I know not to blindly trust News Limited! Edward James

  7. CliffG

    Newspaper editors, for all their spurious (and in the case of News Ltd bigoted and agenda driven) attacks on them, seem to behave exactly like politicians.

  8. Venise Alstergren

    They even touched up the upholstery which had been behind Reinhart. They weren’t nearly so careful with the gap left by the man sitting behind Lloyd Rayney.

  9. Stevo the Working Twistie

    I just love how Mitchell’s first reflex was to lie. That really, really speaks volumes for the man and the corrupt organisation he works for.

  10. Venise Alstergren

    How can a media arm report facts while, at the same time, practicing self-censorship to please an billionaire American owner and senior citizen?