Fairfax Media spiraled into decline as a series of Boards of Directors misunderstood or just ignored technological changes, as they maneuvered for perceived political and commercial influence. The cost cutting, centralisation and redundancies which resulted from this decline, may have saved money but they also squandered the news group’s intangible but critical advantages. It seemed that the Boards didn’t really know what made Fairfax unique.
A generation of journalists took their redundancy cheques from Fairfax Media this month. The group is downsizing, abandoning its broadsheet formats and selling off its printing plants, as a result of falls in advertising revenue.
Fairfax was once Australia’s most influential media empire. From the wood paneled fourteenth floor of 235 Jones St, John Fairfax and Sons directed the nation’s highest quality newspapers, a commercial television network and a string of AM radio stations. The Fairfax building brought the commanding mastheads of Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun Herald, the Australian Financial Review and the afternoon newspaper, the Sun under the one roof for the first time. Press historian and journalist, Gavin Souter said news was being produced there even as the building was completed in 1956. More…
News Limited has ditched its traditional newspaper structure to meet the demands of 24/7 multiplatform journalism.
The legacy of a series of takeovers and expansions, News Limited had 19 Divisions, including The Herald and Weekly Times in Melbourne, Queensland Newspapers and Nationwide News in Sydney.
Under the new organisation, management will be reduced to five divisions with multiplatform responsibilities.
News Limited, owned by the US based News Corporation, publishes most of Australia’s major newspapers, including the Herald Sun, the Courier Mail, the Sunday Mail, the Adelaide Advertiser and the Sydney Telegraph. While Rupert Murdoch was one of the first newspaper publishers to warn against the impact of the internet, News Corporation’s attempts to diversify into new media such as My Space, have floundered. Newspapers are now a relatively minor part of international News Corporation operations which are dominated by cable television, satellite services, movies, and other entertainment.
Australia’s leading quality press, Fairfax newspapers, have taken a big step towards becoming a virtual news group.
Fairfax Media, which published the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review, today announced the closure of its major printing presses and dumping the traditional broadsheet format, while foreshadowing more than 1900 redundancies.
The impact of today’s announcement reflects the narrow ownership of Australia’s news media. Fairfax may be centred in only Sydney and Melbourne, but it represents a liberal alternative to the dominant Murdoch press and the government funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation. More…
Networks of outsourced sub-editors, linked by computers, could edit most newspapers , according to Bruce Davidson, the CEO of Australian Associated Press (AAP).
In 1991, Davidson was a founder of Pagemasters, now a subsidiary of AAP. Pagemasters operations in Australia, New Zealand and the UK provided complete design, editing and production services for a range of metropolitan, regional and community newspapers and weekly and monthly magazines. It specialised in administering content online and on digital platforms.
It was this service which allowed Fairfax newspapers to outsource much of its sub-editing.
George came from a family of newspapermen, with a father, Chas, an uncle Len, and a brother, Dick in the trade before him. George was a journalist in Sydney for more than half a century and in his time, he was a sub-editor, a London correspondent, a Chief of staff, a cadet trainer and editor of Column 8 at Fairfax newspapers. But George Richards would help change newspapers forever, introducing computer systems which would revolutionise journalism culture. More…
Australia’s most prestigious newspaper group, Fairfax Media, this week moved to sack about eighty experienced sub-editors to outsource production and cut costs. The move followed share price falls resulting from from weak advertising markets, currency fluctuations and the impact of the internet on readership. It may have long term implications for the journalism culture which has sustained quality Fairfax newspapers.
Newspapers, like the automatic wrist watch or the big gun battleship, were inventions of the mechanical age. Journalists were at the front end of an information assembly line where reporters collected the raw materials, sub-editors refined it, lay out staff boilerplated the words together and printers manufactured the industrial out put. Newspapers were called “the daily miracle”.