It looks like the internet is on its way to claiming its first significant paper-based newspaper victim in Australia. Fairfax looks likes it is in its hard-copy death throes and will be ‘on-line only’ sooner rather than later. But it will not be the first newspaper death, as this site chronicles for the US.
Of course, this is unlikely to be the end of Fairfax and the stock market reaction suggests that shareholders view the paper-based model as a drag on profits, not a source of profits.
At noon, shares were 4.8 cents, or 7.8 per cent, higher at 65 cents.
The Age, the SMH and the AFR will continue in a digital form. There may even be one portal for all three publications.
It will be interesting to see if the movement to on-line changes the nature of competition in newspapers. On line additions do not need to sell themselves through screaming headlines that are noticed in passing. They are downloaded on a tablet or other computer automatically to subscribers. With tablet computers they can be more easily accessed during the day and readers can ‘catch up’ with stories in a spare moment. So (hopefully) the move on-line will lead to an increase in more thoughtful journalism. Mind you, looking at the stories that my children read on line, this could be complete wishful thinking on my part!