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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.


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.

In an ASX announcement, the company revealed it was turning The Age and The SMH into tabloids — or “compacts” as it describes it — as part of its three-year “Fairfax of the Future” strategy. The first cut-down editions will start in March next year.

Hywood also announced that digital paywalled subscriptions will be introduced to metro masthead websites on a “metered” basis — apparently similar to The New York Times, which gives non-subscribers a certain number of articles for free — with details due by the end of the year. The firm will also press ahead with its “digital first” editorial model, forcing hacks to file multiple times for online during the day.

The well-remunerated CEO said he could stop printing hard copies completely and move to a “digital only model” if print circulation and revenues changed materially. If the redundancy targets aren’t met voluntarily, they will be compulsory, especially outside “core areas” including news, investigations, business and sport.

As part of the drive, the company’s Tullamarine and Chullora printing presses will close by June 2014, saving $44 million annually. Tullamarine opened to much fanfare in 2003; Chullora employs 230 permanent full-time staff and Tullamarine about 100. The decision raises the prospect that the new tabs will be printed at regional facilities like Ballarat and Beresfield and shipped to their respective CBDs each morning.

The total savings from the dual moves will come in at $235 million annually with one-off costs of $248 million (mostly redundancies) after land sales are factored in.

Furious Age staff were mulling whether to walk off the job to protest the changes with The Age‘s house committee convening at midday to formulate a response. A half hour stop work meeting will be held at 4PM to discuss the company’s proposed changes and get feedback. Publisher David Hoath, editorial director Garry Linnell Age editor Paul Ramadge rolled through the changes at an 11am all-staff crisis meeting.

In Sydney, senior SMH business scribe Stuart Washington spoke about “tears on the newsroom floor” and said the paper’s staff was considering its options. Linnell will front staff alongside metro chief Jack Matthews and SMH publisher Peter Fray at 4pm. The mood is poisonous inside the metro newsrooms after the decision two weeks ago to offshore 66 NSW regional sub-editors to New Zealand resulted in a 36-hour strike.

Hywood, a former Australian Financial Review cadet, said he would be booking a “substantial” number of redundancies in the next 60 to 90 days.

Fairfax currently employs 800 metropolitan journalists across The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times and its Brisbane and Perth web portals. In an internal email to staff, obtained by Crikey, metro chief Jack Matthews said 300 staff would be excised from the metro division — 150 from editorial.

The Financial Review Group, which employs 270 people at titles including The AFR and BRW, will slash 10% of its headcount over the next three months.

“While it will be hard, it will change the business for the better. I urge people to think twice before challenging the changes,” Hywood told staff, adding it is “the greatest chance to be a profitable or sustainable business in the future”.

Hywood said (read the full address and presentation here) the strategy was about bringing the fixed cost base down and relieving pressure on revenues. The company was “carrying a cost base that is way over what you need”.  Hywood wrote:

“This is an historic day for Fairfax Media. We are making the biggest changes to the business ever made and none of us under-estimates the enormity of them.

“We are determining our future by decisively moving us along on the journey from print to digital.

“While some of the decisions that we are announcing today were very hard to make — others were exciting because of what they will unlock and problems they will solve. All are necessary, all are inevitable — and we will not, and have not, shied away from making them. We know there is no choice.

“Very significant change must happen and must happen now. We will not abdicate our responsibility to secure the future of the company.”

In his email, Jack Matthews was equally bullish, saying “the decisions underpinning these changes are difficult, but … we simply cannot shy away from them”.

“Not only are they a response to significant revenue pressures brought about by the broader economic environment, but also sweeping structural changes that challenge the economics of our — and virtually all other — traditional publishing businesses. It is important to reiterate that the challenges we face are not unique to Fairfax,” he wrote.

“While we have previously announced a range of strategic initiatives to achieve efficiencies and develop new revenue streams, we need to do more to respond to the pace of structural change and the depth of the current cyclical slump in advertising revenue.”

Earlier this morning, Fairfax said it had reaped $166 million by selling off 15% of New Zealand auction site TradeMe. It will continue to hold a majority 51% stake in the company. Hywood also revealed  Fairfax had considered spinning off the metro businesses, and selling its radio division, as recommended by some analysts and 9% shareholder Allan Gray, but after some reflection, he dismissed this course of action. “we do not agree with them, but, we do have to make sweeping changes and we have been working on them for some time.”

Analyst Peter Cox told Crikey the plan was a step in the right direction, but came 10 years too late. “It’s the correct action but it’s too late,” he said. “The board have been asleep at the wheel for the past five to 10 years.

Fairfax management made three big mistakes, Cox said. “They didn’t charge online much earlier, they failed to see how many people would abandon print for online and they failed to capture classified rivers of gold online.”

The metered paywall “was purely a survival technique to get costs below revenue. Of course, this will help Fairfax survive for the time being but it doesn’t mean the company has a future.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national printing chief Lorraine Cassin, told Crikey that the union, which covers staff at Chullora and Tullamarine, was “disturbed” by the announcement.

“We’re pretty unimpressed, the way we learned about it was via the media…we’ve had no consultation with our members and we’ll be seeking urgent discussions with the company.” Rolling industrial action was possible: “…we’ll consult with the members and decide how to respond.”

Fairfax shares surged 7.7% to 65.5 cents today against a 2% jump in the broader market. The company had been trading for months at record lows, having lost 15% of its value this year and 85% over the past five years.

Mining entrepreneur and climate change denier Gina Rinehart last week upped her Fairfax stake to 18.6% and is pushing for a board seat for herself and another for her close adviser, right-wing fast food king Jack Cowin.

Additional research by Matthew Knott



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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..

  11. Lord Barry Bonkton

    Well looks like Gina might get some ” Workers ” for her mine from the 1900 sacked workers at her papers. TIP : If Gina or Clive buy anything that you have shares in, SELL quickly before they trash it.

  12. geomac

    Why is it that so many businesses resist change until its either forced on them such as Telstra or defer it until there is no alternative ? A smaller size was a no brainer once ad revenue started to slide . You can,t read broadsheets when you commute for example and a lot of people who don,t use ipads etc buy a tabloid to read while on the train . How the claim that Fairfax should have charged online earlier is made is hard to understand . Newscorp has only recently tried it and as yet its unknown if its worthwhile . Worldwide that question is still unanswered and as many , maybe majority , are free online as are not .
    Many years ago I broke a life long habit of buying the Hun and opted for the Age because other than the sports pages it had pap content . Even its crosswords were ordinary compared to the Age with its journos not far behind . If you wanted the story you read the Age and if you wanted the headline you read the Hun .
    I think people or some have the wrong idea of why Gina wants influence at Fairfax . To duplicate Newscorp won,t improve circulation but in fact reduce it . What I believe Gina wants is a mouthpiece to create the myth that Gina discovered the minerals herself and is a self made millionaire . Inheritance and litigation is to be removed from the publics awareness . Of course she also wants to mute journalism that discusses centre or slightly left views and push her strange far right perspective . Why does the Kim Il dynasty come to mind . Her great and glorious father and the great and glorious daughter who we should all love and revere . It will never work here but it would work in the sense of stifling opinion articles or editorial direction . More readers for Crikey and their contemporaries and more one paper states after the demise of Fairfax as a serious rival .

  13. Hamis Hill

    How many of the palace eunuchs of the press, the unelected “politicians in hiding” are caught up in these sackings. Not many, as always those causing the problems usually manage to be kept on.

  14. paddy

    A sad day as the good ship Fairfax, finally announces they’ve hit the iceberg.
    I think the band just started playing “Nearer my God to thee”.

    BTW. Good luck with that paywall.
    When you’re offering editorial content is as awful as your’s,
    the chances of significant income from mug punters actually *paying* for it…..?
    Tell them they’re dreaming.

  15. eric

    Did I hear someone say “too little too late”

    The horse has well and truly bolted and newspapers as we now know them will be a thing of the past by the end of this decade.

    It will be nice to see Gina drop a few hunderd million on Fairfax when it folds.

  16. KimbLee

    As always i’ve enjoyed the comments as much as the actual piece. What would the Fairfax call their Crikey? Struth. Fair Go. Howmuchisit?

  17. Peter Ormonde

    “The Orstayan – Oi Oi Oi” I’d reckon …
    or The Furphy.

  18. ConnorJ

    Time for me to man up and pay for a Crikey subscription, I guess. If I’m going to pay I’m only going to pay for quality, not to be told what to think by Aunty Gina.

  19. znotty Grunt

    Crikey has a pay wall,& then shows ads as well!…get stuffed the lot of ya.

  20. ConnorJ

    @Eric “It will be nice to see Gina drop a few hunderd million on Fairfax when it folds.”

    Touche. If there is to be a silver lining on this dark cloud then this is it.

  21. Auntie Skull

    I’ve always found broadsheets are better for wrapping up kitchen scraps.

  22. rossmcg

    why use the pejorative term “hacks”to describe fairfax journalists. some might say it takes a hack to know one and just because you work for holier than thou Crikey doesn’t make you any less of a hack than you think Fairfax journalists might be

  23. Stiofan

    Just a few points:

    (1) No-one in this article or in the responses appears to have suggested a credible alternative business strategy.

    (2) Complaints that Fairfax journalism has declined in quality are misplaced. Fairfax journalists write for people who are like them – Abbott-haters who like overseas travel, going to trendy cafes and watching trashy TV.

    (3) Crikey as The Great White Hope? Don’t make me laugh! This story alone illustrates how Crikey writers cannot tell the basic difference between factual reporting and editorialising:

    * “The well-remunerated CEO” – zip significance to the story

    * “climate change denier Gina Rinehart” – ditto

    * “right-wing fast food king” – ditto and POV.

  24. dangle fangle

    Entirely appropriate to package the tabloid content of The Age in a tabloid format for the last year or so of this once fine papers existence.

    The move to a tits-n-bums approach was sheer genius, it drove the educated readership away in droves & entirely failed to attract replacements.

    Building the expensive new office in Spencer St was a bit hubristic, too – I guess it will convert into apartments fairly readily.

    Folk *might* pay a bit to read quality journalism online, but no-one in their right mind would part with a zack to look at the tripe they are currently serving up.

  25. william gibbons

    “It will be nice to see Gina drop a few hunderd million on Fairfax when it folds.”

    meh, she’ll make it back in a fortnight. i actually think she wouldn’t mind so much if fairfax did crash, i mean, stifling dissenting opinion is the end game right? what better way than eliminate one of the few outlets left that publishes contrarian views to her own?

    maybe she’l take over crikey next?

  26. Doug from Parkdale

    Hywood wrote:

    “We are making the biggest changes to the business ever made and none of us under-estimates the enormity of them.”

    “Enormity” is one of those classically misused words. Thorugh frequent mistaken use it’s come to mean “really big”. But the correct meaning (this from MerriamWebster) is “an outrageous, improper, vicious or immoral act”.

    Methinks Hywood accidentally used the word correctly.


  27. Michael de Angelos

    It shows what happens when a newspaper is not run by newspaper people but businessmen. Fairfax were ahead of News Corp in the digital race but they sacked the bloke who built their on-line version and he went to The Guardian.

    I was always perplexed why Fairfax never had a downloadable on-line version like The Australian has.

    I’m not celebrating this news and I would pay for quality on-line content.

    One thing : the Media Alliance has been asleep longer than Fairfax management and all those journos that pay fees to them should either form a new alliance or force the union management out. They are a disgrace and have ignored freelancers for decades despite a shrinking salaried workforce and a growing freelance workforce.

    The day the Media Alliance went into bat for the non-union scabs in the paparazzi when listening devices were found outside Nicole Kidman’s house was the day they lost me.

    Let’s not celebrate – all those workers have families and mortgages.

  28. Edward James

    Perhaps these changes will increase the opportunities for public trust journalist to expose their “news” which is ignored by big media?? Edward James

  29. mick j

    Journalists of all persuasion have for too long refused to report the real news. Whilst corruption in government is (generally) absent from publication, only ever given fleeting treatment and all but protected by the media we keep getting the cat up the tree stories and the same gup served up. No wonder people stop buying this publication.

    What is really wrong with Fairfax is that jobs are being sold to New Zealanders and this is a national disgrace as soon we will have more overseas workers than Australians in gainful employment.

    Of course we all need to recognise than gen Y doesn’t buy papers so this is a significant nail in the coffin too.

  30. davidson mary

    BOOOOO HOOOOO Oh no journalists are now in the real world. Probably would like our sympathy. I don’t think so princesses. The way you have reported on stories about others losing their jobs you all deserve what you get. I can see a heap of wharfies laughing loud over lunch.

  31. GeeWizz

    Gina isn’t after money in fairfax, she is after power.

    Gina makes more money in her sleep than anyone here could make in their lifetime… she wants fairfax so she can influence politics.

    Though I think the leftwing media need a shakeup I don’t like the idea of people using media to serve their own purpose.

  32. Peter Ormonde

    “….I don’t like the idea of people using media to serve their own purpose.”

    Best joke I’ve heard in weeks.

  33. Skipp55

    The paper won’t be worth reading anyway, once Rinehart gets her grubby little fingers on it.

  34. floorer

    I’m with Dangle Fangle, once great paper mere shadow etc.The real reason they’re going to a smaller page size is less chance of the fluff floating away.

  35. zut alors

    At this rate Fairfax will be further down the black hole in another twelve months, the shares will be peanuts and, if Ms Rinehart is still so inclined, she can buy the whole kit and caboodle for a song.

    Unfortunately, that kit includes the journos.

  36. Pete from Sydney

    “Cox said. “They didn’t charge online much earlier, they failed to see how many people would abandon print for online and they failed to capture classified rivers of gold online.”

    Too bad you weren’t around 10 years ago when that news would have been handy…analyst Peter Cox. Blind Freddy could have made that staement now. The same thing was missed by virtually every newspaper business in the world. Wasn’t just the Australian businesses.

    By the way going tabloid will cut paper costs immensely …it won’t cut quality, that’s thinking like our business analyst friend. Fairfax alreay had a tabloid Fin and Sun Herald. The way Crikey readers bang on about it you’d think it was akin to printing on toilet paper.

    Actually I am wondering though where they’re going to print these new little papers, no Chullora and no Tullamarine printing plants?

    And lastly…Crikey this must be a red letter for you guys, you’ve been wanting newspapers to fail for years now…I assuming you’ll half your prices…most of the stuff you write is either about newspapers or lifted from them?

  37. Mark from Melbourne

    Despite everything said above, the real losers will be the Australian public, not necessarily because the FFX sheets were so well written etc but simply because they attempted to provide a different view which in turn forced a certain level of honesty onto other media players.

    You remove Fairfax from play (or they are substantially weakened) then our political, business and social agenda becomes the play thing of the Murdoch’s, Stokes etc. Not a healthy situation I would argue.

  38. Mark from Melbourne

    I should have added quote marks to the “honesty” as it isn’t necessarily that they print lies but more a case of giving prominence to their own agenda, less to others, not publishing stories that criticise themselves or their cronies. Not analysing motives etc etc.

  39. Peter Ormonde

    Monsieur Alors …

    Surely this is all we can expect from Gina – after all leaving craterous black holes is what she does best after all.

  40. Patriot

    Consumers of media content in Australia have voted with their feet. They are not interested in the extreme left-wing propaganda published by Fairfax and the offending papers will soon cease to exist. It’s just that simple.

  41. Ronson Dalby

    “extreme left-wing propaganda published by Fairfax”

    Yep, I’m so sick of the articles in the SMH from extreme lefties like Gerard Henderson & Paul Sheehan.

    At least that other extreme leftie, Miranda Devine, saw the light and moved to the left-wing Murdoch stable of ‘news’papers.

  42. LJG..............

    I just hope their Paywall is as pathetic as the Murdoch one and I can hack around it to read the articles if I need to – seriously it’s harder to access a porn site than get around their paywall on a PC.

  43. Ben Hibbs

    Patriot, it’s not that simple. Traditional newspapers are suffering from falling readership across all political persuasions, which makes a furphy of Rinehart ‘investing’ in Fairfax in order to make money.

  44. zut alors

    Michael De E @1.49pm

    “It shows what happens when a newspaper is not run by newspaper people but businessmen.”

    The same principle applied to Hollywood when the accountants took over – the era of classic films long gone, these days mere pap. And completely forgettable.

  45. Patriot

    Yeah, it is that simple. You just didn’t understand my comment, which was on the future of the most unpopular newspapers in the context of the future of the entire media content landscape. There are papers that will survive for a very long time. Much longer than the Age, etc.

  46. Peter Ormonde

    Ben – yes it is exactly that simple … at least for Patriot.

    Every omen is about the decline of this once great country… and the death of Fairfax is just another black crow on the horizon – all due to the “extreme left-wing propaganda” published by Fairfax…. THE WHAT???? Ross Gittins? Mike Carlton? Michelle Grattan? All broadsheet bolsheviks?

    So we’re obviously seeing a flood of customers chasing more objective right-thinking news to be found in the Augean stables of Mr Mollock …in this free-market for commonsense and The Truth. Oh – apparently not. Or have they sought refuge in the arms of Alan Jones? Well no actually … ratings dropping like a rock.

    But heck why let a few facts stand in the way of a decent always right rant…

    Time to lift Howard’s gun laws soon I reckon. Nut season looms.

  47. ian kemp

    I notice that one of the strategies is not – to improve the quality of the content. I will happily pay to read Crikey online (at the current price natch 🙂 ) and ‘New Scientist’ but jonnowarren is too right – I would never pay to read the crap on the SMH web site.

  48. Patriot

    Can understand Peter Ormondes defeatism. He’s already tried and failed to popularise radical left-wing propaganda publishing in this country in the Tribune.

  49. Peter Ormonde


    No – we’ve obviously seized Fairfax and of course always had the ABC and SBS … not to mention the Wentworth Courier and the Courier Mail … and don’t forget the Australian in its early days when Rupert was deluded into supporting Labor…. before he discovered dole bludgers and tax avoidance.

    It’s not the newspapers that are the problem Mr P – it’s all this reading and writing rubbish – letting just anyone do it… orta be a law.

    I’m still wondering exactly what country it is you are so patriotic about – obviously hate this one.

  50. Ronson Dalby

    “I’m still wondering exactly what country it is you are so patriotic about”

    Well, he’s obviously into Tea-bagging .. . whoops, Tea-partying.

  51. Patriot

    No, really, you failed. The Age, etc, will go the way of the Tribune.

    Ronson Dalby, I’m into neither, but thanks for sharing your intolerant bigotry.

  52. Karen

    OMGawd! – Bananarepublicsville, here we come. Its finally happened. Voter opinion formed by tabloid media across the length and breadth of the land.

    Well, Crikey, as I said before…opportunity knocks. Develop a fantaaastic App for Ipad, hire the best and brightest from the Fairfax stable (im sure they’d come in droves if you can pay them) and fill the gap that the SMH has left behind. You might have to start advertising.

    The political and economic elites will be forced to read the alternative viewpoint to stay informed. Because there is nothing, literally, nothing left of an alternative perspective in this country.

    Geezus Xrist!

  53. Peter Ormonde


    To do anything like that and capitalise on the disintegration of Fairfax Cr*key would need some serious cash … wonder if there is any prospect of a public float? Or at least getting some of these rich ratbags who think independent reportage is worth keeping to pitch in… strewth if the Big Issue can do it surely Cr*key can scrape together a few quid.

    Would have to abolish the moderation monastry though and stop treating its readers like the enemy.

    I can think of at least three Fairfax journalists who could earn their keep. Three!!!

  54. Hamish Moffatt

    Didn’t The Age announce a move to a tabloid format years ago under a previous editor?

  55. David Hand

    Clearly most of you left elites gnashing your teeth about Fairfax and the evil Gina have never run a business.

  56. khtagh

    The Va Gina times maybe?

  57. McMediaman


    You could be our last hope…get private equity funding fast! I’ll write for free; for the first week anyway.

  58. shepherdmarilyn

    Does that mean the endless stream of opionistas and bloviators will go?

  59. Edward James

    Will Crikey support their subscribers? Who are to a greater or lessor extent public trust journalist whose work product keeps Crikey in the media game. Edward James

  60. Hamis Hill

    I expect that Fairfax will bundle their on-line papers into some existing Foxtel-type subscriber
    service to overcome the resistance to payment problem. In ‘straylya as elsewhere the majority of readers are in it for the sports journalism where readers are more informed and discriminating and the standards of writing, though more narrowly focussed, are much higher than the front pages. Which most people don’t read because thay are indeed “Crap” and in Australia always have been.
    Just treat politics as a sport, apply the same high standards of accountability and accuracy as are
    found in the sporting arenas, perhaps even employ some sports journalists and the media and the nation just might be saved.

  61. McMediaman

    “Does that mean the endless stream of opionistas and bloviators will go?”
    No Shep…that’s called part of the readership.

  62. Seasprite

    There is a simple explanation for the tabloids to out sell broadsheet papers and you don’t need to be a genius to know why, ask the people who buy them they will give a simple answer, the paper is to big and the sports coverage is better in News Ltd papers, Rupert knows it and thats why he has spent big dollars buying up sports broadcasting rights in many countries.

    It would have been a smart move to bring in a compact version of The Age or SMH five years ago to compete with Herald-Sun or Tele, they could have improved the sports section without losing any of the quality Journalism, sure The Age newspaper was Lexus, but the punter wants the Toyota Corolla, expand the sports section and fill it with in-depth analysis on all sports and the weekend games, interview sportsmen and women, they could do this online now with a dedicated sports video channel and punters will pay for it.

  63. Edward James

    Opportunistic ranters will always be represented on Crikey.com.au Marilyn! Otherwise where would you be ? Edward James

  64. daly carol

    I haven’t heard how this affects the Financial Review aka ‘Tony’s Trumpet’? I hope it will suffer too from its lack of quality and diversity in journalism.
    Maybe this and News Corps downsizes will relieve the public of journalists following the Twitter group think and talking to each other.
    I would like some factual tracking of the diverse parts of our society reflecting the Asian Century and our entreprenurial, multicultural mix! Where are the people who can deal with issues in depth and in another language/culture?? Our future….

  65. Suzanne Blake

    @ David Hand

    Not only have the lefties here never run a business, so to the incompetent Labor politicians in Canberra (bar a few).

    Which why they are out of touch and out of their depth.

    Look at Craig Thomson and what he resorted to

  66. Edward James

    First visit the string. Then reply to the comments if you wish to remain current! Edward James

  67. LJG..............

    @SB – May I mention “the Australian” for a business that isn’t making a profit.

  68. Pedantic, Balwyn

    Crikey start hiring some of the very capable journos from Fairfax and see the subs roll in!

    As a suggestion as some “longer” articles, in addition to the news grab diet we are used to.

  69. Michael


    I see that honest opinion that is contrary to your deep rooted dogma are simply not acceptable. I recall that the rot at Fairfax started the same way. Wonder how long you lot will last Ms Black?

  70. AR

    Such a shame that the Global Mail has proved to be a dead parrot – barely a new story per week and that turgid cut’n’paste from files.
    Which leaves only Crikey. Oh sh!t….

  71. GeeWizz

    I don’t know why the journalists don’t just start their own online newspaper.

    I mean you need what…. a website… a couple of hundred bucks to setup.

    Then you need journalists… well you’ve got a few hundred to choose from now to write your stories.

    Then you need contacts and sources for your news….well journalists will bring their little blackbooks with them no doubt packed full of them.

    A few photographers, a web admin and whamo, you’ve got a real independent news organisation.

    Sacked Fairfax employee’s should stop whinging and start their own news website. Shouldn’t need Murdoch or Gina to hold their hand to do it.

  72. Richard Affleck

    I guess I wouldn’t be here at all if the barbarians weren’t at the door as I write. I’ve been reading Fairfax broadsheets for 45 years or so, and it feels like I’m kind of losing a lifetime friend. Of course there’s the ABC, but as a previous comment mentioned, rightwing pseudointellectual Tony Abbott will make quick work of that.

  73. Rupert Moloch

    warwick’s failed strategy for the National Times, and a paywall? lord help me…

  74. Michael de Angelos

    Posted Monday, 18 June 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink
    Does that mean the endless stream of opionistas and bloviators will go?

    One would hope as I pay for several on-line services but wouldn’t be paying good money to read the inanities of Henderson etc.

    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Monday, 18 June 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    @ David Hand

    Not only have the lefties here never run a business, so to the incompetent Labor politicians in Canberra (bar a few).

    Which why they are out of touch and out of their depth.

    Look at Craig Thomson and what he resorted to

    What on Earth are these two on about?

  75. Damotron

    How come these right wing papers keep going bust? Michelle Grattan should have no problems finding a job with News Limited.

  76. Patriot

    Cr_key is always whinging because they don’t enough staff to properly fact-check, find typos, censor comments and what have you. If they can’t find some competent staff who are sufficiently left-leaning for them in the fallout from this, then they never will.

  77. McMediaman

    It’s so depressing. All we are is just another brick in the paywall. Just back from the pub and Clarrie, our loquacious pundit and normally a fecund source of information, solutions, opinions and conspiracies about anything you care to mention, just leant bar-wards all night staring at the Nobbys nuts and Kettle chips. “Cat got your tongue mate?” says I. “For your edification and general enlightenment,” says Clarrie, “I have erected a paywall about my personage. Those wishing to avail themselves of my wit, insight, secrets, arguments, views and opinions will henceforth have to subscribe.” I was gob-smacked; smacked in the gob. This man was customarily the Oracle of Delphi without the need for chicken giblets. I shrunk away into a shady corner contemplating my funk. Bloody paywall just to hear Clarrie bang on about all and sundry! After a schooner of pensive eternity I returned to the bar. Clarrie was still lasered in on the salty snacks so, timidly I uttered; “Beer mate?” “Why, my most excellent fellow,” piped Clarrie, “delighted to accept. Have you heard the news? A seminal moment for freedom of speech; a cataclysmic cadence in the annals of the fourth estate; olfactory odium of Orwellian overtures……….”
    It’s so very depressing; but I do understand paywalls now.

  78. David Hand

    Michael de Angelos
    Only too happy to explain.
    Printed newspapers are going through an extraordinary period of difficulty as the cashflow that funded their business model, classifieds, have fled to the internet. This Fairfax announcement is a brave, risky, dramatic and well thought out attempt to secure the future of the business that may still fail.

    Reading the comments in this thread, many contributors are simply moaning about paywalls, the death of the left leaning Age and Gina.

  79. Michael


    RFLMFAO !!!!

  80. Ronson Dalby

    “Rinehart wants unvetted control

    It is understood she has asked for the position of deputy chairman, the unfettered right to hire and fire editors and sought to have her alternate director appointments to be unvetted by the board.

    She has also asked for seats for two of her nominees in addition to one that may be taken by hamburger chain king and fellow Ten Network director Jack Cowin.”


  81. Michael


    Terrific news.

    GO GINA !!!!?

  82. Karen

    @ Peter Ormonde – I’d be interested to know the business model of the Big Issue? Crikey might need to raise its subscription price and do a bit of selective advertising (like SBS) as well. Can’t hope for manna from heaven from a rich ratbag.

    Agree with you on the moderator – more sophistication is needed here – either a ‘real time’ moderator is needed or, if we have to wait for posts to be published, why can’t the comments be published , for Xrist sake, at the time they are vetted, rather than posted!

  83. Michael de Angelos


    Having a political stance is expected but applying it to Fairfax and attacks on ‘lefties’ shows further that businessmen have no idea how newspapers work and it demonstrates why Fairfax have lost their way.

    I saw this coming a decade ago (having worked at both News & Fairfax) and made alternative arrangements in my life.

    When Fairfax veered from it’s ‘middle of the road’ stance and attempted to catch up to News Ltd it stumbled badly. News Ltd newspapers are losing sales rapidly in the tens of thousands every year.
    If you think the Tele & Herald Sun will survive you are mistaken. Rupert Murdoch was the last to embrace the digital age and it shows dramatically (Wall St Journal/ My Space/ UK Times ?..all money losers).

    Fiddling with an excellent brand with a reputation (left or right wing) will always upset a loyal audience.

    Those who think Gina and Jack Cowan (a successful hamburger salesman) will be Fairfax saviours, with Cowan as Gina’s voice having already proclaimed owners should be able to influence editors, have rocks in their heads. Cowan’s announcement alone has done serious damage and it’s the advertisers who will flee. I reckon if Gina gets her way then Fairfax will plunge even further. It also shows the folly that simply being cashed up doesn’t mean you can run any business. Even Murdoch has made disastrous decisions and lost a fortune in advertising with Glen Beck on Fox News.

    There are two great examples in the world today of newspapers who have switched to digital and still kept their published versions : the UK Daily Mail & The Guardian, both of which still cater to their audiences and ignore their critics.

    On the plus side : this means on-line news outlets like crikey & Independent Australia are on the verge of a golden age in publishing.

  84. Peter Ormonde

    As I understand it Karen the Big Issue has a stable of corporate sponsors and supporters which provide both a financial basis and support in kind. They also solicit donations and bequests. They got at least some seeding money from the Federal Government from memory.

    Here’s a bit about who does what: http://www.bigissue.org.au/about/funding-and-supporters/

    Now … off to the ministrations of the moderator lest some “unworthy” link is posted. One of Cr*key’s stranger rituals.

  85. khtagh

    With so many Journalists unemployed we might see the standard of reporting go up or is that just a pipe dream? Or will it go the other way with right wing control. Journalists preying on each other “I’m a better liar for hire than him/her”.

    Please tell us all here if crikey is going to be placed on the market anytime soon?

  86. Ronson Dalby

    “moderator – more sophistication is needed here – either a ‘real time’ moderator is needed or, if we have to wait for posts to be published, why can’t the comments be published , for Xrist sake, at the time they are vetted, rather than posted!”

    Couldn’t agree more. By the time some comments are posted not only are they probably never read because of the posting time but they’ve become somewhat irrelevant as well.

  87. Peter Ormonde

    Cr*key’s moderation betrays a rather patronising and dismissive approach to its readers … needing supervision and control … a source of potential but essentially imagined problems and difficulties.

    It also betrays a rather strange notion of why people read the thing – as much for the comments as for the initiating articles I’d wager.

    But I’ll absolutely guarantee that Cr*key hasn’t even investigated this perverse phenomenon … not even harnessing the power of Essential’s market research to find out why people read their publication – they just assume it is the wit and wisdom of their content and their columnists.

    Talk about Fairfax building in reasons to fail. A small bureaucracy but none the less arrogant for its size. New media work on new rules. Find out what they are.

  88. Peter Ormonde

    If you want to see a dynamic, robust and informed public discussion – check out what the folks at The Conversation are able to get away with…. simply scandalous!

  89. Michael


    By the way Crikey won’t admit it but they are in the same death spiral as Fairfax & all other socialist media. It’ll just take Crikey a bit longer cause their business model (same as Fairfax) requires them to subsidise their Leftist opinion.
    The market for a Socialist slant on news is very thin & getting thinner.

  90. Michael de Angelos

    And as others have pointed out :
    where does this leave all those right-wingers who deplore Labor’s NBN but will no doubt be thanking God when it finally comes to deliver Andrew Bolt’s sermons to the great unwashed.

  91. geomac

    I see where some cronies of Gina reckon she should , as owner , have the power to hire and fire editors etc . With just under 20% of shares thats quite a jump to declaring ownership as in being the owner isn,t it ? Naturally people such as Singo would like to deal with Gina regarding radio stations . After all the shares acquired are for control/direction and not the usual profit motive . I wonder if this activity by Gina is in part why the children ( adults ) of the trust fund are contesting their moms control . After even Lang himself removed her from the trust at one stage and for Gina to covertly stretch out the vesting of the trust fifty years would be alarming to the beneficiaries . We should have a fit and proper person policy for media after all its required for the local pub licencee .

  92. IC-1101

    Fairfax is now yet another colossal failure of the left and its stubbornness and anti-business rhetoric.

    I love the smell of conservatism in the morning. Smells like rationality.

    Seriously, The Age is a great outlet, but its business model has stunk for a long time. Its stubbornness and smugness towards News Ltd hasn’t helped.

  93. Karen

    @ Peter Ormonde – thank you for the link -if this Gina st*ffs Fairfax’s editorial direction, there will be a ‘gap’ in the media and it will be interesting to see how progressive publications respond. Crikey might become the new Fairfax with other media sites like The Conversation et al becoming the new Crikey. Moves on a checker board…

    @ IC -1101 – Err, Fairfax is conservative media. The board would describe its media as conservative. And any, but any, media analyst would tell you that as well. Its only distinction is that it ts simply not as rabid as Ltd News. So, where do you get this Fairfax being ‘a colossal failure of the left’ cr*p from? Your own value system?

  94. Peter Ormonde

    Oh dear Ms Karen … let’s hope the Conversation will fare better than that.

  95. David Hand

    Crikey’s “golden age” will only arrive when it abandons its inner city latte sipping bendy-bus fetishist (thank you Boris) left wing ghetto and appeals to the broader more conservative population of australia. And it can do this. I first subscribed whet Crikey published its story of Eddie Everwhere “boning” Jessica Rowe. Christian Kerr was a regular contributor and his political bias was much more in line with middle Australia than the current lot.

  96. Karen

    @ David Hand – Crikey’s “golden age” will arrive when it becomes another Fairfax and Ltd News?
    Are you serious? The ‘mainstream’ market is a bit crowded and Fairfax and Ltd News have been doing for longer. Its probably fair to say they’ve got the market stitched. I can’t see Crikey competing with the Oz.

    Crikey exists because it is one of the few publications that offer an alternative perspective. Probably the only major publication of its kind. Pathetic state of affairs, isn’t it.

    And as for Christian Kerr, he was a contemporary of mine at Adelaide Uni law school. I remember him well. A true blue died in the wool Lib back then. Conservative yes. Centrist, no.

  97. David Hand

    I have a low expectation that Crikey will move its journalism into the middle and therefore Michael de Angelos’ dream of a golden age for Crikey will remain a dream. A centrist publication would have commentary from both sides of politics and this has virtually died out in Crikey.

    Of course there’s a place for a left wing publication like Crikey catering to its left elite followers. It will remain a fringe publication with such a tiny market but hey, everyone deserves to make their own business decisions.

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