Friday, May 20, 2011


Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett has opined today that we are seeing the beginning of the end for The Age.

The reality is that if it happens to The Age it will happen to the SMH too.

I personally cannot understand the reluctance of Fairfax to go harder on the idea of shared content, including a single Canberra Press Gallery. My only difference would be that I'd kill the AFR at the same time.

The AFR should become the business section of the two broadsheet papers. It really serves no other purpose.

The five print titles of The Age, SMH, Canberra Times and the Illawarra and Newcastle Heralds (I think they still exist) could be joined by print versions of the Fairfax online initiatives in WA and Qld, and probably the addition of an Adelaide one.

The online strategy needs to more actively embrace the use of other "mastheads". The "National Times" is an effective combined masthead for the opinion of The Age and SMH, but bizarrely does not yet run to the Canberra Times. Their tech sections, motoring etc can be similarly branded (OK I know some of them might already be).

Ultimately the selling point to journalists is the ability to continue to fund "quality journalism" by increasing the audience of every writer.

The strategy needs to start at the news and information content and work its way out to brands, not the reverse. Ultimately that means a complete restructure of the editorial arrangements - there is a national editor for business who knows how many pages he has in each title and decides what goes in them. Yes there might be less business news in the smaller papers, but those readers can access the online content.

And heck, you could really print in each and every paper a unique code for access to the day's paid content, and at the content end restrict that to being able to be accessed by only one IP address and for that day only. You can also restrict the number of page views so a robot or proxy can't access the rest.

Finally, get over the paywall fixation on archived content. Anything over a month old should be readily available - you build your brand that way.

I'm not in the newspaper biz ... probably for a reason. but there look to be many more creative ways to get more bang for the buck than outsourcing sub-editing (the latter being something management consultants rather than management would dream up).

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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