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Can Gina Save Fairfax?

June 19, 2012

Can Gina save Fairfax…?

Probably not, but she might be able to prop it up with her unfathomable purse strings as some sort of “plaything” in much the same way as Rupert Murdoch keeps the loss making masthead The Australian afloat by his good grace.

The reality is, as we all know, that printed newspapers are dying at a rate of knots.  The only thing that has changed in recent months is the accelerating rate of their demise.

The challenge for the operators, is how to transform their businesses from traditionally profitable print-based mediums into similarly profitable online ventures.

It is a challenge that may well prove insurmountable.

While the surprise announcement of mass job losses at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald came from left field, the writing, so to speak, has been on the wall for years.

In the space of a few years, more and more readers are turning to the internet for news and current affairs, a change in behaviour exacerbated by the proliferation of hand held devices, ubiquitous wireless internet and a consumer thirst for up-to-the-second news and information.

Many traditional mainstream media journalists have already taken to twitter to communicate directly with readers – effectively circumventing the traditional Editor/Sub-Editor bureaucracy that was typically involved in reviewing and approving editorial content prior to publication.

The downside in all of this, is that “investigative journalism” is now a thing of the past.

It has been sacrificed in favour of a confection of instant sound grabs and information bites each competing for audience attention and doing so with the fleeting promise of a hint of scandal, rumour or salacious innuendo.

The cost we pay, as consumers, is that we are no longer credited with the intelligence to read, digest and interpret a detailed, or well-considered analysis of current world events.

And for this we are all lesser off; the media operators, the journalists and editors, and we the readers.

The announcement that Fairfax will now pursue an online “paywall” strategy at the expense of its broadsheets is no real surprise.  It’s been lagging behind in this space for years.

And to be honest, it didn’t really have a choice.

However whether it will make any money from a payview model remains to be seen, and based on the experience of other publishers the outlook is not good.



22 Comments leave one →
  1. el gordo permalink
    June 19, 2012 3:07 pm

    ‘…by setting down simple rules to ensure the newspapers report whatever issues they and their editors regard as important…’ even if biased.

  2. el gordo permalink
    June 19, 2012 3:43 pm

    ‘…stockbrokers said that the hedge funds that have been heavily shorting Fairfax stock would be unlikely to cover their positions….’

    If Gina can’t have some input she could always pick up her bat and ball (19% shareholding) and go home.

    I see Fairfax editorial as the architects of global warming hysteria.

  3. Tony permalink
    June 19, 2012 3:49 pm

    ‘Underpinning the charter was the idea that the independence of Fairfax journalism under new owners would be safeguarded by setting down simple rules to ensure the newspapers report whatever issues they and their editors regard as important, free of commercial or other considerations of the board and the investors they represent.’

    Hmmm. Free of commercial considerations. I think we’ve found the problem with Fairfax’s business model: The journalists want to fight causes; the board should want to make money. If the public doesn’t want to pay for what you’re writing, it might be time to try writing something different.

  4. TB Queensland permalink
    June 19, 2012 4:08 pm

    So Faifax should change its name too … Rinehart’s Rag ???

  5. reb permalink
    June 19, 2012 4:25 pm

    I think the big challenge for Fairfax will be whether they can actually make any money from the online papers.

    Naturally they don’t face the same costs of production and distribution associated with their hard copy editions, but on face value it seems that many people aren’t prepared to part with cold hard cash for the privilege of viewing content online – when there are plenty of other “free” online news sources.

    It may well be that eventually the SMH is just run by some lonesome nutter in some rundown office above an Adult Bookshop in Fyshwick just posting inane rants and fabricated scandals….


  6. Splatterbottom permalink
    June 19, 2012 4:38 pm

    What do you mean by “save”?

  7. June 19, 2012 4:42 pm


  8. reb permalink
    June 19, 2012 4:42 pm

    “What do you mean by “save”?

    Good point…

    A “financial lifeline” perhaps…?

    She certainly wouldn’t be saving them from editorial independance….

    But perhaps that’s a battle that’s already partially lost anyway….

  9. June 19, 2012 4:47 pm


  10. TB Queensland permalink
    June 19, 2012 5:06 pm

    It may well be that eventually the SMH is just run by some lonesome nutter in some rundown office above an Adult Bookshop in Fyshwick just posting inane rants and fabricated scandals….

    What’s your new Melbourne address again, sreb?

    Just askin’ … 😯

  11. June 19, 2012 5:11 pm


  12. June 19, 2012 5:53 pm

    In the absence of an open thread, I must resort to putting this here…

    the new DYING FETUS album is malignant beauty!

    Get it up ya, plastic people.

  13. TB Queensland permalink
    June 19, 2012 5:56 pm

    Titanic II isn’t built yet, Toillette! But it’s planned … 🙄

    MINING tycoon Clive Palmer said today it was full steam ahead for his plan to build a 21st century version of the Titanic, with 20,000 people expressing interest in the maiden voyage.

  14. June 19, 2012 6:01 pm

    Yeah, I know TB. That’s why gina has to settle for being TITANIC 3 .

    Next she’ll buy the BORNCOS!


  15. TB Queensland permalink
    June 19, 2012 6:08 pm

    Don’t say that … 😦

  16. June 19, 2012 6:39 pm

    Haha, then they’ll have less credibility than Teh Storm.

  17. June 19, 2012 10:10 pm

    ‘And just then, like Lochinvar out of the West, Mrs Rinehart arrives with $84 million and not the slightest desire to make the guest list for David Marr’s next soggy-biscuit soiree.

    ‘They’ve lost it, seen it slip from mung-beaned fingers, and it must be terribly galling.’

  18. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    June 20, 2012 11:29 am

    There are various blogs that specialise in “blame the media” for the poor popularity of the government. Very serious too!

    The point they don’t seem to address is – how was the population able to come to a rational decision about the Howard Government in 2007, but are so easily manipulated by the media in 2012?

    I don’t recall any of the ALP supporters arguing that they were getting a good run in the media in 2007, quite the contrary.

  19. June 20, 2012 1:52 pm

    Singo: “If you trash a brand day after day and put on the front page that mining should be compulsory and you should eat iron ore for breakfast, then the circulation would go down along with the credibility. We don’t need lectures from bloody politicians about branding,” he said, adding that she must have a seat on the board.

    “You get an Australian who’s been very successful and has nearly 20% of the company and she doesn’t get any board seats? Who the hell do they think they are?” he continued.

    “I was on the board [at Fairfax] when the charter was introduced and it’s full of bullshit. It was nonsense then and it’s nonsense now and Gina’s not going to sign up to something she doesn’t believe in.

    “In the end, who hires the CEO? The board. Who hires the editor? The CEO.”

  20. June 20, 2012 4:21 pm

    From above article: ‘One of Rinehart’s close business confidants, Australia’s fast food king Jack Cowin (with whom she sits alongside Lachlan Murdoch on the board of the network television channel, Ten), told ABC radio two weeks ago that Fairfax should be treated as a business that maximises profitability, not a public service.

    ‘Acknowledging that Rinehart is more rightwing than many conservative journalists, he cited a recent article which said stopping her from being involved in editorial policy at Fairfax “would be like Qantas not allowing its directors to talk about aeroplanes”.’

  21. Tony permalink
    June 21, 2012 5:29 pm

    ‘The first objective of any media company is to earn a profit, or have a patron who will tolerate losses. All the other objectives, promoting democracy, providing alternate voices, enhancing civilisation, whatever, are subsidiary to the first objective. Right now Fairfax can’t earn a profit and doesn’t have a patron.

    ‘Media patrons are not unknown or even unusual. As indicated the ABC has the federal government, The Conversation has a consortium of universities, Crikey has Eric Beecher, the Global Mail has Graeme Wood, The Monthly has Morrie Schwartz. This pattern of ownership is hardly surprising. In a 2003 Journal of Law and Economics paper looking at media ownership across 97 countries, Harvard economist Andrei Shleifer and co-authors found two dominant modes of media ownership – government and concentrated private owners.’

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