Fairfax’s Chief Operating Officer Brian Evans has “come out” in the now traditional way used by media executives: an interview in one of his flagship newspapers.
The story in the Financial Review is headlined: “Turning over a new page at Fairfax,” while a second story has Evans all coy about succeeding Freddy Hilmer as CEO of Fairfax.
Evans is promising a new marketing push from Fairfax next month, but will it be all Fairfax papers? After all, he’s still not responsible for the AFR,for example, which sits in Fairfax Business Media run by Michael Gill, who reported directly to Freddy Hilmer, along with the executive without portfolio, Al Revell.
But there are a couple of points in the Evans story (by Neil Shoebridge) which must give the horrors to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald managements.
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Evans says both papers “had become too complex.” He did say that Andrew Jaspan had “brought energy” to The Age since joining 11 months ago.
But The Age, like the SMH, had become too complex. People are looking for smaller, smarter papers. We’ve added a lot of new sections and created complexity in terms of collating and distributing our newspapers. Our editors need to make their papers easier and quicker to read and quicker to collate and distribute.
But he said Fairfax would not move its broadsheet papers to tabloids, thereby ending that speculation.
But perhaps Evans could have a look at what’s driving all these new sections on small business, health and well being, money, etc, etc. It’s the desire for revenue and profits from the culture installed at Fairfax by the likes of Freddy Hilmer.
The commercial imperative is what has made the papers too complex, not the journalistic desire to cover more stories. And when the journalistic side does cover a story, it’s done to death in a way that turns off readers, rather than enlightening them.
But even though the papers are too complex and face rising distribution problems as a result, don’t expect anything to change that might impact revenue and earnings.
Wouldn’t you have liked Evans to have expressed some pride and interest in what the Fairfax papers (and others) are all about: breaking news, explaining stories simply and generating great interest and involvement from readers and increasing circulation as a result?
Evans sounds like a clone of Freddy Hilmer; no wonder the board likes him.