Media News - Wednesday, June 20, 2012
A shakeup which will see Australia become the first country in the world with all its flagship newspapers behind an Internet paywall has prompted declarations that the "golden age of newspapers is dead". But analysts are divided on whether the digital-focused overhaul of media giant Fairfax - the only major rival Down Under to Rupert Murdoch's News Limited - sounds a death knell for newspaper journalism in Australia. Fairfax sent shockwaves through the media sector Monday by announcing it would sack 1,900 staff and put the online versions of its metropolitan Sydney Morning Herald and The Age broadsheets behind a paywall. The newspapers themselves will be scaled down to tabloid format and two printing presses shut as the haemorrhaging company, which is being circled by mining magnate Gina Rinehart, attempts a radical online transformation. News Limited is widely expected to unveil its own brutal print streamlining which will cost up to 1,500 jobs, underscoring the digital era's demolition of traditional readership and revenue models. Fairfax's third-largest stakeholder, funds management group Allan Gray, has warned that the company's main metropolitan dailies face closure, describing them as "already worth less than nothing". Former editor of The Age Michael Smith described the reforms as the biggest announcement in a century for Australia's heavily consolidated newspaper sector, which is 70 percent owned by Murdoch. (AFP)
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