Jul 1, 2013

Why the internet alone can’t save Fairfax

The internet has ripped revenue from media companies -- and it won't save them alone. It's a niche medium that can't support large-scale journalism, the Crikey chairman writes in The Monthly.

Eric Beecher — Chairman of Private Media (publisher of <em>Crikey</em>)

Eric Beecher

Chairman of Private Media (publisher of Crikey)


The "newspaper business model", as it’s now derisively known, has imploded. The internet has poached most of Australia's newspaper classified advertising. The money that financed quality journalism for a century is disappearing, with no likely replacement.

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15 thoughts on “Why the internet alone can’t save Fairfax

  1. Venise Alstergren

    Very insightful comment thank you, Mr Beecher.

  2. Harry Rogers

    Over the last few years it has taken a couple of quick sums on teh back of a postage stamp to realise that the printing of newspapers will not be sustainable.

    The dilema is in what direction to steer. For the past year the newspapers have veered strongly to online delivery hoping to provide advertisers with a captive audience. This clearly will not and does not generate anywhere near the revenue to sustain a bricks and mortar premises full of permanent employees.

    The downstream effect of this is not only newspapers. As Beecher states the monopoly of newspapers was guarenteed by the prohibitive capital cost of entry to that market. Exactly the same as the printing industry with the capital cost of printing presses.

    It doesn’t take much to draw the bow longer and relate it to department stores. These monoliths that made the greed merchants even richer have had their day and will probably become entertainment centres.

    A longer article could discuss the deep changes in culture that are manifesting themselves in the 18-35 year old age group regarding the attainment of knowledge and diversity of sources now available.

    The road looks long and out of focus at present and the mist may only clear when the full force of technology shakes the foundations of the new millenium.

  3. Gavin Moodie

    I am yet to be convinced that the demise of the big mainstream media ‘has the makings of a civic catastrophe’ since politicians and powerful interests can be held to account just as much altho differently by the ‘millions of websites and blogs’ and indeed by social meeja.

  4. paddy

    Excellent stuff from Mr B.
    I realise it’s probably “commercial in confidence” and a whole lot of other secret squirrel stuff.
    But it would be lovely to know just how our favourite online publication is going financially.
    Dying slowly?
    Fingertips on the precipice?
    Reasonably comfy in the creaky deckchair?

    You know the sort of thing we’re talking about.
    Just a hint would would be nice.

    Because we do actually care about you all in the bunker.
    (Even on cranky Monday.)

  5. Keith Thomas

    Not particularly insightful. I think we are all pretty aware of everything in this article apart from the hard numbers. As Harry Rogers asks: ‘so what?’ Where are we going? Beecher tells us the US situation is also dire, but does not mention the situation in Europe, India and the UK.
    My sons, both in their 30s, have never bought a newspaper in their lives. It just wouldn’t cross their minds. They don’t have Facebook pages or Twitter or Tumblr accounts but are very well informed about local, global, social etc. issues. One has not watched television for over 10 years, the other rarely. I can see more clearly than they that much of their information and opinion is created by – or parasitic upon – newspapers broadly defined. So I am concerned about the future when the foundation provided by the mainstream media fades away. Care to follow up, Mr Beecher?

  6. klewso

    Employing the likes of Grace Collier – a “newspaper business model”? Designed by “Harry Kirry”?

  7. cheryl

    what a conceit. this has been beecher’s blather for years. and the genius in charge of fairfax has picked it up, accelerating the collapse with his exhibitions of strategic impotence.
    obviously, beecher and hywood are not the people who will create the opportunity for journalism. It would be helpful if they both shut up.

  8. bushby jane

    It would have helped Fairfax if they had retained the better journalists they employed, and not kept the duds like Mark Baker, who carps on and on about Julia Gillards AWU unproven missteps, and simply still hasn’t moved on. All these supposed opinion pieces on sport, with no facts like cricket SCORES. Quality content will keep them going, but it is going downhill at the moment.

  9. Anty Go

    I’m loving new models of journalism like The Conversation. The only thing that annoys me about The Conversation is they hired an old-school journalist, Michelle Grattan. SMH, The Age and The Australian are simply gossip rags – and have been for a very long time.

  10. Liamj

    There will always be some free/cheap media so long as there is a need to massage public opinion to suit the powerful. But if eg. Rupert is paying the full cost himself (instead of sharing cost with people short of toilet paper), he’s bound to prefer the web for its unparalleled memory hole functionality.. “we are concerned about climate change, we have always been concerned about climate change”.

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