Jun 18, 2012

Fairfax cuts deep: papers to tabloids, 1900 staff axed

Fairfax Media will move The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to a tabloid and sack 1900 staff -- including 380 journalists -- as part of a massive cost cutting drive.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

Fairfax Media will slice The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to tabloid-size and sack 1900 staff — including about 380 editorial positions — as part of a massive $235 million cost-cutting drive to save the media giant from corporate oblivion.

In the bombshell revelation delivered via a technically plagued internal staff webcast this morning, CEO Greg Hywood said 20% of the job cuts would come from editorial, 20% from printing and the remainder from other activities. There are currently around 10,000 Fairfax employees.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

97 thoughts on “Fairfax cuts deep: papers to tabloids, 1900 staff axed

  1. ggm


    “Fairfax management made three big mistakes: they didn’t charge online much earlier (public now used to free content); they failed to see how many people would abandon print for online and failed to capture classified rivers of gold online.”

    but, “public now used to free content” pre-dates ALL of the paywalls: this practice was established well before the walls went up, and I am not being told the News Paywall is an overwhelming success: either at making money, or protecting the brand.

    “failed to capture classified rivers of gold online”

    those rivers of gold demand freemium content. You cannot justify the $ charge to the admen without eyeballs, and you don’t get the eyeballs behind a paywall.

    I can’t make this bit add up: the paragraph contradicts itself.


  2. Ronson Dalby

    Time for the ABC to up the number and quality of its servers.

  3. Andrew McIntosh

    “(C)ompany also revealed it was turning The Age and The SMH into tabloids….”

    Good to see they’re making that official.

    Likeliest scenario – Gina The Hutt sweeps in, props it all up with her billions, gloats. Then it’s just a matter of privatising the ABC (forthcoming Abbott government) and that’s it for mainstream media in this country, goodnight.

  4. jonnowarren

    Ha ha, a paywall. To read the drivel they put up. Yeah sure. I don’t know how many people are willing to pay online for News Corp papers like the Herald Sun but I can’t imagine it’s that many, and given the standards at Fairfax have been inexorably approaching those at News Corp I can’t imagine many will want to pay for that. I certainly won’t.

    Constant spelling and grammatical errors, crap “news”, e.g one of todays “headlines” is about a “fight” between comedians Russell Brand and Graham Norton, others are recaps of last nights television shows – wow, hard hitting news that is. Then they reprint articles from overseas sources – The Guardian(UK) is free so why would I pay to read one of its articles in The Age a week or two later? (This happens regularly).

    Fairfax is headed for oblivion, or now that Gina is buying up, it really will become another version of a News Corp paper.

  5. Peter Ormonde

    Time to leave folks. Leave Gina an empty husk of a masthead and the parrot for editor in chief. The SMH is worthless without good journalism. Time for the extended holiday and a nice little farm somewhere.

  6. Sir Ian Chegsworth III

    “Fairfax management made three big mistakes: they didn’t charge online much earlier (public now used to free content)..dude we are all geniuses in retrospect.

  7. John

    How appropriate that the papers will now go tabloid-size. The website has been tabloid in approach since its inception.

  8. gdt

    It’s not clear those strategies would have worked.

    Consider that real estate advertising has been moving towards disintermediation of listings, with the large real estate chains like Century21 simply running their own websites.

    What the SMH hasn’t done very well is to use its content to drive advertising. Take car sales, where viewers want advice as much as they want to see listings. The Fairfax effort is pretty half-hearted. The real threat to all the operators of those sites is the motoring service/lobby using their huge historical content, knowledge and on-the-ground presence (eg, pay us to inspect your car and we’ll throw in access to our reviews archive, reliabliity database, etc). So far the papers have benefited from those organisations’ absence.

    You shouldn’t talk about the SMH as if it were one person. I am very sure there are people in Fairfax who understood what needed to be done well before the rest of newspapers.

    You shouldn’t assume that a model which works for a high-reputation paper in a country with no effective public broadcaster will work in Australia.

    My criticism of Fairfax online is it’s failure to engage. It has no hyper-local content, rather the websites are very focussed along their paper mastheads. The comments don’t eludicate, but make the worst of talkback radio look intelligent. The content is arranged to optimise webhits rather than optimise engagement. There is no user-contributed content of value.

  9. ggm

    berliner is not tabloid. not all small papers are tabloid. having said which, I think about all fairfax has left in the chest IS the chest: page-3 might boost sales. I can’t see their journalism doing it..

  10. ggm

    what they need is somebody smart, yea, an academic. Maybe somebody like Fred Hilmer. Or Warwick. I say bring back Warwick..

    sorry… too much coffee..

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details