We talk about horror weeks on sharemarkets. Two media companies will fall this week, but the horror week will be for journalism in this country.

Fairfax and News Limited are burning hectares of editorial resources to save their farms. The former announced it would sack 1900 staff — 380 from newsrooms — and effectively exit the printing game altogether; the latter will go to market in the next day or two to announce a sweeping restructure that will make hundreds more unemployed.

For those that love these companies, that respect their role in society, the doom and gloom is almost too much to bear.

“Fairfax of the future,” was how the devastated company headlined the changes this morning. But the future still looks bleak. It will close its printing presses, cut The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald to tabloid size and lock its online content so only paying subscribers gain access. It keeps the wolves from the door — with Gina Rinehart at the head of the pack — but it doesn’t look like a sustainable business model yet.

Kim Williams will put a better spin on News Limited’s plans this week — Rupert Murdoch’s empire has always handled these things better. But the core of the business — large newsrooms producing daily journalism — looks just as shaky.

CEO Greg Hywood ripped the heart from Fairfax, and Australian journalism, today. But there weren’t many more organs left.

Peter Fray

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