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The Age and Sydney Morning Herald to Become “Tabloid Trash” under Major Overhaul

June 18, 2012

History of Fairfax woes…

Fairfax has announced it might scrap The Age as a printed newspaper as well as some 1900 job cuts over the next three years.

Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood said the company was adapting to the changing behaviours of readers.

In documents lodged with the ASX this morning, Fairfax revealed that printed copies of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald could end if the radical changes fail to turn around the organisation.

“If metro print advertising and circulation revenue declines materially then Fairfax could transition to a digital only model,” the document said.

Under the changes announced today, the company has announced that The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald will become tabloids in March next year.

Fairfax will introduce paywalls around its Sydney Morning Herald and The Age websites next year, although some limited free access will remain.

In a shock move, the Tullamarine and Chullora (NSW) printing presses will be closed within two years.

About 150 editorial positions from The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times are expected to be lost as a result of the restructure.

An internal memo emailed to Fairfax staff today said about 300 jobs would be axed at the company’s metropolitan division, which includes The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times.

Half the jobs being axed are editorial positions.

“Many of these redundancies will occur over the next 2-3 months,” the email from the head of Fairfax’s Metro Media division, Jack Matthews, said.

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) acting federal secretary Paul Murphy said the cuts contradicted Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood’s recent statement to the stock exchange that the company would invest in quality journalism and editorial standards would not be compromised.

“Any further loss of editorial positions will clearly damage these newspapers’ ability to produce quality journalism regardless of whether that journalism appears in print or on digital platforms,” Mr Murphy said.

“Readers and employees alike are entitled to know precisely how Fairfax Media intends to ensure that these two great mastheads will continue to produce quality journalism when fewer journalists are left to actually go out and hunt out news stories.”

The MEAA will meet with Fairfax management this afternoon to discuss the redundancies.

The company expects to make annual savings of $235 million by 2015 through the changes.

“Readers’ behaviours have changed and will not change back,” Mr Hywood said in a statement.

“As a result, we are taking decisive actions to fundamentally change the way we do business.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. JAWS permalink
    June 19, 2012 2:00 pm

    They have been talking about the SMH going to a tabloid size for years now. If it did it would have to improve the circulation since broadsheet is far too large for public transport readership. But as far as a print version goes I don’t think it will die that quickly.

    If you want a readily disposable form of media to take fishing, take to the beach (thieving lower classes), read in a pub while waiting for friends etc a print version is a must have. Would you really take your iPad to the beach and leve it “safely” wrapped under a towel.

    Maybe newsagents/service stations will just print off copies on request in future from the electronic format rather than taking delivery of 200 copies of which 50 get returned for mulching.

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