While the house burns, Ron Walker and the Fairfaxes fight over the silverware.

What was once a byword for quality journalism and an Australian publishing institution has become just another media company, and a none-too-successful one at that, with collapsing revenue and no apparent vision for how to cope with the challenges of new media. This week’s launch of the National Times online is as good a yardstick as any for Fairfax decline. Take a revered title, a one-time home of leading-edge investigative journalism of the highest agenda-shaping quality and re-launch it as a clearing house for re-run commentary and tepid blogging.

Quality journalism isn’t in the race. The Fairfax new media vision involves luring users through a combination of sub-tabloid hackery, celebrity gossip and parochial froth-and-bubble. It is destroying brand and reputation. And it matters, in a media market with only one other mass-market commercial competitor in print.

Here, as we publish, are the top stories on the Fairfax sites that style themselves national leaders in quality news online. Looking good, Ron:

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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