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Feb 18, 2016

Clickbait on the front page? Fairfax backs away from print

Will Fairfax's new editorial structure push its mastheads further down the road to clickbait and shareable online content?

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

Fairfax Media publisher Sean Aylmer

Readers of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald will no longer be able to look to the morning's paper for fresh news and investigations, as Fairfax intends to downgrade the importance of its newspapers to promote its online offerings. Under a new structure unveiled yesterday, editors of the papers will no longer work closely with journalists and commission stories; instead, the print editors will scrape together material already put on Fairfax's websites to fill their papers. The new power is the head of digital channels (the online editor), to whom the section editors will now report, as well as reporting to the editors-in-chief of both papers. Fairfax journalists understand the tone of the newspapers will also likely change, to the lighter, more popular offerings that drive the Fairfax websites. There are no immediate plans to axe the print editions of the Age or SMH, but the new structure would make a decision to stop printing papers altogether easier. An organisational chart of the proposed new structure leaked to Crikey shows the isolation of the new print editors. The head of print channels, to whom the Monday-to-Friday and weekend editors of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will report, has no reporting lines connecting him to the journalists and section editors who will write the stories for the mastheads. The head of print channels does not even appear to report to the editors-in-chief of both papers, but reports directly to Fairfax's editorial director. The publishing of print papers appears to be an activity now separate to the journalism done at Fairfax's most famous mastheads.

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