August 27, 2008 | Graham

Can Fairfax survive with 30 percent fewer journalists?

According to The Australian Fairfax is about to cull 30% of its journalists so as to keep its newspaper empire financial.
The article suggests that they will do this by cutting back on news, which is bad news. It is also bad business.
Journals like On Line Opinion prove that you can produce news on the Internet at a price that will sustain the activity on the advertising produced there. Anything you make out of putting it into hardcopy newspapers and “repurposing” (what an ugly word) it should be pure jam.
Of course, many journalists would need to lift their productivity substantially. Susan Prior our editor does what she does basically on one and a half staff, and produces around twice what most op-ed pages produce each day. I suspect that’s a lot more than 30% more efficient than most MSM operations. Well done Susan, you’re the way of the future.

Posted by Graham at 9:35 am | Comments (6) |
Filed under: Media


  1. Interactive sites like yours Graham,are stealing the print media’s market.Are you going to feel guilt at their demise as OLO becomes more successful?
    It is all about free market forces.Fairfax has to learn to adapt.
    Do I detect a smug,smirk of self satisfaction?You’re doing well.Keep evolving.

    Comment by Arjay — August 27, 2008 @ 8:41 pm

  2. No smugness here Arjay, but I think what is achieved by the staff deserves recognition. We’re also working away at the economic model and have reached that stage where we need to stick with what is economically viable, while still looking to explore other avenues. So letting a hundred flowers bloom has given way to a slower and more considered evolution, but evolution is happening.

    Comment by Graham Young — August 28, 2008 @ 12:12 am

  3. Graham, full credit to OLO for doing what it does well. However, I think you’re stretching it by calling your content “news”. Virtually without exception, your articles are commentary and opinion on news generated elsewhere.

    Comment by CJ Morgan — August 28, 2008 @ 9:13 am

  4. I take your point in terms of the usage of the word “news”. The point I’m trying to make, without an editor checking to see whether the words I write actually make the point, is that our model can be used to produce quality news. I’m also using news in the broadest sense of the term, and I think opinion is often more valuable than the reports of events that we normally refer to as news.

    Comment by Graham Young — August 28, 2008 @ 9:38 am

  5. Fairfax and everyone may survive because there is something profoundly comforting about having a good breakfast while reading the morning paper.
    Whether that is sustainable or not is an entirely different question.
    Arcing up the computer is in no way comparable with the olfactory message associated with which the fish and chips was once wrapped during my youth.
    And since I’m a bit of a Commie I cannot see why journos cannot form a collective – somewhere/somehow – in order to blast the monopoly to perdition. Putting it simply – they need to get the act together and respond to immediate circumstance. As might a few bankers these last few days.
    Just an observation –

    Comment by A NON FARMER — September 18, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

  6. Can Fairfax survive with 30 percent fewer journalists?
    Yes. Absolutely.
    A more definitive answer goes this way.
    Since most Nation States and large corporations, essentially, manufacture ‘news’ and usually get very uptight if some whippersnapper publishes opposing views – and since most of that manufactured news is pumped hourly into the press/media feed channels to the extent that there isn’t any room for the whippersnapper’s comment even if some valiant editor admired his nephew’s article so much that he wanted desperately to publish it – there simply wouldn’t be the room in the rag.
    All booked out months ago and fed into the system by increasingly better editorial software.
    Where, once, at the ‘Daily Planet’ it was always Jimmy Olsen that got the chop when Superman was temporarily under the influence of the Green Kryptonite – these days Perry White, too, has to watch for the glistening blade first thing in the morning.

    Comment by A NON FARMER — September 26, 2008 @ 8:33 pm

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