Following Gina Rinehart’s massive share buy last week, Fairfax announced its long-overdue plan to go digital via paid subscription — scrapping outdated print versions of Australia’s major broadsheets, namely the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – and shedding 1,900 staff in the process.
The media company is set to shut down the printing presses of the two papers located in Chullora in Sydney’s south-west and Tullamarine in north-west Melbourne, respectively, the ABC reported.
About 1,900 jobs have to go in the next three years, shocking workers at the presses.
Andrew Jaspan, former editor-in-chief of The Age and a current editor of The Conversation, also said about about 20 percent of the editorial staff, about 150- 200, are poised to lose their jobs. He added that the media company can still produce a “premium print” edition using a few journalists.
He said the media company has been mismanaged by people who do not have direct experience in the media industry.
The print editions, he said, are outdated formats invented 155 years ago, noting that the Internet has radically changed the nature and the way news are distributed. He said “rivers of gold” generated by advertising have been dried up.
One by one Fairfax was stripped of its classified advertising “rivers of gold”. The jobs went to Seek.com.au, cars to Carsales.co.au, homes to Realestate.com.au.
He proposed the digitalisation of Fairfax way back in 2007 when the company’s market value was $5 billion. After five years, the value dipped to as low as $1 billion. The share prices also collapsed from $5 per share to 60 cents which investors like Rinehart have taken advantage of, he added.
The former Fairfax editor said Rinehart will not run the media like an investor but instead she will use the media to sway public opinion.
Back in 2010 she and her fellow mining barons spent $22m to get rid of Kevin Rudd’s proposed mining tax….. And so successful was the campaign that they got rid of Rudd and saved themselves an estimated $20bn in taxes.
Rinehart’s appointment of Australia’s leading climate change sceptic, Ian Plimer, as an advisor to her mining companies is simply a taste of what’s to come. As one senior Fairfax editor remarked, expect this kind of front page once Rinehart gets control. “Exclusive: Climate Change is a Hoax”.
Rinehart grabbed nearly 19 percent of the total shareholding of Fairfax Media in two separate buy outs last week. Her company, Hancock Prospecting ,confirmed she has increased her stake at the company from 13 percent, a status which made her the majority shareholder. She cannot hold more than 20 percent unless she bid for a takeover as stipulated under Corporations Act, the ABC said.
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