All seemed to be going swimmingly when Fairfax Media issued its annual report a few months back. The glossy 128-page paean to CEO Greg Hywood’s savvy managerial skills, titled “Information 24/7”, included breakout boxes explaining how consumers were going to be caught in Fairfax’s web at every waking moment.

But one line buried on page 123 left eastern Victoria media watchers confused — the report listed Fairfax as owning a website,, which is actually a portal for a wholly independent stable of regional newspapers published by East Gippsland Newspapers. The group’s popular mastheads include the Bairnsdale Advertiser, the East Gippsland News, the Snowy River Mail and the Lakes Post and have been held by the local Yeates family for more than 100 years. An irate East Gippsland News published a clarification in its December 7 edition as follows:

Fairfax report wrong

It has been noted that has been included in the Fairfax Digital Regional Section in the 2011 Annual Report, implying it is owned by Fairfax, which is incorrect. The website is that of East Gippsland Newspapers, James Yeates & Sons P/L is an independent fifth generation Australian family business.

How did Fairfax incorrectly claim it owned regional newspapers it actually doesn’t in its annual report? Is it thinking of launching a takeover bid? And won’t it have to issue a correction notice to ASX? Crikey left a message for Hywood this morning but it was not returned.