The retrenchment of a significant chunk of Fairfax Media's Australian staff was inevitable with the closure of two of the publisher's major printing presses, a strategic cost cutting move in line with the company's shifting focus to its digital news platforms. The number of redundancies forecast as part of a major organisational restructure is an estimated 1,900 jobs over the next three years, revealed by Fairfax today.

It was also announced that the major Fairfax online news sites, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, are planning to introduce a paywall so certain content will only be viewable by paying subscribers - in the same way American publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Boston Globe currently operate online.

The paywall will prevent users without a subscription from viewing certain content, and it will be interesting to see how receptive Australian users are toward paying for a service they currently take for granted as cost-free. A greater concern is what the future holds for almost 2000 soon-to-be unemployed staff members, with a reported 20 per cent of cuts coming from the editorial divisions.

The other major pending change is the introduction of a new tabloid-sized hard copy format for The Age and The SMH described by Chief Executive and Managing Director Greg Hywood as 'compact'.

In a statement Hywood said, "The evolution of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to compact formats and the implementation of digital subscriptions for these mastheads are landmark events for Fairfax.

"Our investment in quality journalism and our editorial standards will not be compromised and will continue to underpin our success."


This afternoon it was also revealed that WA mining gorgon Gina Rinehart has increased her stake in Fairfax Media to 18.67 per cent, which is great because as a mining industry heavyweight she surely doesn't have an agenda she'd want to push through her partially owned media channel, right Harry Potter?



Main image by Greg Wood, AFP