Memo Fairfax CEO David Kirk and his very strange board: The slashing and burning of Sydney Morning Herald editorial experience is working a treat.
Just look at how fortunate it was yesterday that the SMH failed to report the folly of anti-competitive Fairfax director Roger Corbett. Nice. And did circulation suffer or the number of ads fall? Of course not. Who needs journalists at all?
One of the features of the redundancy program is the reduction in the SMH‘s business section’s ability to cover white collar legal cases – there simply aren’t the bodies available to do it anymore. In fact, the ability of the SMH business section to cover as much as it still does is rather remarkable.
Among those the SMH let go and have not replaced are Anne Lampe and Margot Saville – both experienced journalists who might otherwise have been expected to be on top of Justice Goldberg’s Woolworths judgement when it was made on Monday. But they weren’t replaced.
With Liz Sexton committed to the Kerry Stokes v The World case while the oil-for-food inquiry continues, it seems the SMH will find it impossible to offer experienced coverage of the One.Tel case when it resumes, or the further joys of Brad Cooper, for example.
Maybe that fall off in reporting the unseemly side of well-connected business suits the Fairfax board.
Of course there’s always some sort of AAP copy to just shovel in – but if you’ve also lost key subbing talent sometimes even that becomes impossible.
So a section that was already short-staffed is now critically short-staffed. And today it loses one of its few remaining experienced hands – Jeni Porter is quitting to join TheAFR. Things must be bad.
There’s millions to burn as a farewell gift for Fred Hilmer, there are very fat bonus payments for the key senior executives who can tell the board what it thinks it wants to hear, but there’s no money to actually make sure the news that’s important to report is reported.
Well done. Your mates will thank you for it.