Watching the death spiral of any national institution is not a pretty sight. As the vultures hover over  the carcass of Fairfax Media — the share price today was at 44.5 cents, an all-time low, down 12% — there’s little doubt the people who own Fairfax will not allow the company to be run for much longer by its current board.

But this is so much more than the story of a bungled business run by an incompetent chairman and unqualified directors. It’s the story of how the custodians of some of Australia’s most important journalism have been unable to protect that journalism.

Very soon, a few hundred of Fairfax’s best journalists will walk out the door for the last time, with redundancy cheques in their back pockets and their dreams shattered.

One person who isn’t joining the exit — at least not today and not voluntarily — is Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett, the mastermind of this debacle. In fact, he got a pay rise — on page 17 of the Fairfax reports, released yesterday to the ASX, it’s reported the chairman’s total remuneration rose from $412,629 in 2011 to $432,730 in 2012.

He should give that money back.