Fairfax Media job cuts have left the newspaper industry shaken.
The news that 1900 staff at Fairfax Media are to lose their jobs has left the newspaper industry shaken. Given that this announcement is likely to be followed by a similar one from News Limited, the writing is on the wall (or behind the paywall) for the printed news.
Printed newspapers are simply no longer financially viable. Gone are the days when news titles are supported by classified advertising, and national advertising clients want the immediacy and measurability of an online presence. Printing costs in Australia have soared in recent years and while periodic titles have been able to take advantage of cheaper overseas printing costs, this is not possible for a daily title.
So, where does this leave Australians looking for news updates? Paying for content which has for years been free online. Anyone who has recently tried to read an article on a News Limited site, such as the Herald Sun or The Australian, will have no doubt been frustrated by a couple of teaser lines available before you have to login to see more. This is the newspaper of the future. While currently there is no charge and there are ways to get around the paywalls, this will soon be a thing of the past. As the practice becomes more widespread, you will have to pay for the privilege of reading the news online.
I am one of the millions of people worldwide who gets their news updates online. No longer do I reach for the hard copy printed newspapers to see what’s going on in the world. Very rarely do I even sit down to catch the news on television. News is now available instantly at my fingertips, via computer, iPad or smartphone. However, am I prepared to pay for something which has always been free? I’m not so sure, but will I have any other option? It seems not.
If readers are expected to pay to be able to read the news online, will they simply stop trying to find out what is going on in the world? There is the belief that if everyone charges, then everyone will simply have to pay, but this may not be the case. The internet is a marvellous tool and there will always be many who believe that information on the net should be free. Sure, you may have to wait for the free news to be uploaded, or search a little harder to find what you’re looking for, but if you’re not having to pay, won’t this be worth the effort?
So, to Fairfax Media and News Limited, good luck with your new business plan, I hope it works out for you. But to those clever internet bloggers and content sites, get your fingers at the ready, you’re going to be busy!
Will you be happy to pay for your news online rather than buying newspapers? Or will you simply look for free options?
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