Fairfax is about to be gutted. The Australian
media section reports today that the newspaper publisher’s new COO
Brian Evans is demanding an immediate $100 million improvement to the
bottom line, with $50 million to come from new revenue and $50 million
from cost cuts and redundancies at SMH, Age, Financial Review and Sun-Herald. According to The Australian, Age, editor Andrew Jaspan has been ordered to cut 18 pages a week out of his news hole.

And just as nervous Fairfax staff digest the news comes an eerily
prophetic piece written by the company’s editor-in-chief Mark Scott,
titled “Out of Print,” in this month’s Walkley Magazine, which
warns journalists and publishing companies to embrace multimedia and
control costs or kiss quality journalism goodbye. It includes this kind
of thing…

It’s no use pretending that boards will allow revenues and
profits to stagnate and decline. Journalists and newsroom leaders who
want to protect the best of what we practise now will be at the
forefront of identifying where we can work smarter, where we waste
money and where we can be more efficient – precisely in order to
protect the investment in quality journalism that underpins our papers.
Those who love papers need to lead the charge.

And for those worried about media deregulation, Scott has this sobering reflection:

To protect our papers and secure their futures, an
ideological resistance scale and concentration in the media industry
might be something that needs to be sacrificed for the greater good.

CRIKEY: Batten down the hatches on the Titanic. The new boss is about
to show why he got the job – to cut the costs, then cut them some more,
and then slash them even further. Quality journalism? The sentiment
will still exist, but the reality could become very different.