In January, so a well-circulated urban legend goes, Fairfax CEO Brian McCarthy was asked by analysts to explain his strategy for the media giant.

“Cost containment,” said McCarthy, quick as a whip.

“Well, yes,” said the analysts, “but that’s basic business: what is your STRATEGY?”

McCarthy looked at them blankly and said, “Well, and I’ll also reshuffle my senior executive team” … so the analysts decided the best thing would be to force Fairfax to sell about 500 million more shares to raise capital, figuring that if cutting costs was the extent of the strategic thinking, then McCarthy REALLY needed to reduce debt.

Things have moved on since then, and next month Brian will hold a talkfest among senior types in an effort to define some grain or two of strategic thinking.

On Friday he even extended the offer, emailing an invitation for input to Fairfax staff.

Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2009
Subject: Strategy Meeting — Message from Brian McCarthy

In early September the senior management team and approximately 30 invited members of staff will be discussing the future direction for Fairfax Media Limited over the next three to five years. While the number of attendees is limited, I am keen for all staff to have the opportunity of contributing to this important process.

If you wish to make a contribution and have a say in the future strategy and direction of your company, please send your thoughts and comments to Chris Maher at [email protected], or fax to (02) 9282 1661 by Monday, August 24, 2009.

All contributions will be considered.

Kind regards,
Brian McCarthy

Here at Crikey we think that Fairfax might benefit from the widest range of possible input. So we encourage you, dear reader, to send your thoughts on how Fairfax might best equip itself — strategically — for the next few years.

Send your ideas to the email address above. Copy us in too at [email protected]. We don’t know what Fairfax will do, but we’ll publish a selection of the more thoughtful responses. This country needs a robust serious press for the health of its national discussion. It’s time we did our bit to help its better half — Fairfax — survive.