Crikey sends Jeremy Sear and Dave Gaukroger on their way.

And today, the inevitable next step:

Fairfax to shed 1900 staff, erect paywalls

Who’s mocking the slippery slope now?

In other news, how canny an investor is Gina Rinehart? Just days before the Fairfax share price rockets, she dramatically increases her stake in the company. Can she read the tea leaves or what?

PS How cute is the headline on the Age front page, where they call the story “Paper giant faces future”? Paper “giant”?

ELSEWHERE: News With Nipples points out the part that undermines their new pitch for me:

How smart is it to sack the people who create the product – the journalists and the printers – but to keep the sales people and management who clearly aren’t very good at their jobs? Declining ad revenue and mismanagement got Fairfax into this situation, but no, let’s make sure those people stay with the company.

Yeah, so you want to charge me more for a product of lower quality because you’ve sacked all the people who add value to it? Good luck with that.

ELSEWHERE: Mr Denmore at The Failed Estate explores how Fairfax got to this point:

This blogger still has nightmares of small, airless offices at Fairfax with yellow post-it notes covering the walls. I spent three years as the AFR’s ‘acting’ online editor (‘acting’ because they dare not give the digital world equivalence with print). And most of that time was spent in brain-eating meetings alongside business people, earnest McKinsey blow-ins and tech-head contractors cooking up a pie-in-the-sky scheme to try to turn the newspaper into a Bloomberg-style data portal.

The Frankensteinian result of that process was ‘AFR Access’, a quixotic attempt by Fairfax Business Media to play in the online space while protecting existing and still lucrative print revenues. It was a classic Fairfax punch-pulling exercise, the result of a timidity and lack of imagination among print-only news executives who, like the apocryphal boiling frog, dared not tackle change that was going to be forced on the industry anyway.

While the talk was about a digital future (I was inspired enough to start a blog), the message absorbed from on high across the editorial floor was that journalists should not go out of their way to be cooperative with the “new media” people, who would end up cannabilising the newspaper and taking their jobs. Well that strategy worked out well, didn’t it?

UPDATE: The Australian reports:

It is understood [Rinehart] has asked for the position of deputy chairman, the unfettered right to hire and fire editors and sought to have her alternate director appointments to be unvetted by the board.

She has also asked for seats for two of her nominees in addition to one that may be taken by hamburger chain king and fellow Ten Network director Jack Cowin.

“The unfettered right to hire and fire editors” with her 18.7%. Well, that percentage is 18.7 times more than the proportion of Australians the editorial lines in question would likely represent.

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