The problem with Fairfax

Quadrant Magazine

David Flint finds where the problems lie with Fairfax:

For two decades now, successive Fairfax boards have hidden behind the charter. To them it has not been a charter of independence – it has been an abdication of responsibility. The board has abandoned the running of newspapers to the journalists while they have concentrated on “growing” the company business.

Instead, the business declined, exacerbated by the drying up of those famous rivers of gold, classified advertising. Roger Corbett’s Canute like defiance of the advertising drought, as recounted by Eric Beecher, would be funny if it were not so tragic. That the classified drought was coming was obvious. But successive boards and management were unable to rise to the challenge in the way any capable media mogul would have.

Fairfax has been run too long by a board full of accountants and management men most of whom – with the exception of the passing appearance of John Fairfax – knew absolutely nothing about the running of newspapers. Worse, they seem to have had little interest in doing so. Contrast that with the typical media mogul who is totally obsessed with and entranced by the media. The fact is, to make any media outlet a success, you have to know the media intimately.

Fair and square the board is to blame as those ultimately responsible…but the journalists and editors do not escape unscathed:

Faced with the abdication of responsibility by the Fairfax board, the journalists went their own way. A succession of charter based editors accepted that they were at most first among equals in these cosy, politically correct collectives. They result was those once great journals of record, the Age and the Herald, were converted into fey mouthpieces of the bicycling vegan inner-city elites whose lives are far removed from the mainstream.

The journalistic collectives took the papers in a direction which first irritated and then outraged their traditional readerships. For years I have been told by countless numbers of people that they have given up their subscriptions to the Fairfax papers. Invariably, they mention the letters page which they see as a forum for the inner-city left. In both papers conservative, suburban, Australians are the subject of condescension and ridicule.

Sound familiar? I suspect the board at The NZ Herald is likewise facing the same issues.


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  • Yes the NZ Herald does have the same problem and it all stems from a mindset.

    That is the mindset that makes one a left winger. This mindset makes it impossible to understand the views of those who are not right wing. They just do not get it and they will never get it.

    That’s why there is the disconnect with so many of their customers, and the downward trajectory.

    They might want to change that trajectory but they never will because they just can’t change their mindset.

    •  Correction- “This mindset makes it impossible to understand the views of those who are not left wing.”

  • Le Sphincter

    How does that explain the down market Murdoch dailes which sell mainly to the labour voters ?

    If this theory of editorial aligned with the political leanings of most of the readers  was other than a load of dosh the Murdoch pot wouldnt be calling the kettle black.

    AS well the Murdoch  dailies are in the same deep trouble over the shift online….. which  again shows the nonsense of their arguments

  • FOX News in the US has varied only slightly from the wall to wall far left norm of other broadcasters and is by far the most popular cable news channel in the US.

    Print media only has to alienate 10-20% of its readers and the continuous hard left political stance has achieved that unwanted objective.

    There are no newspapers that express a true right wing (small government, individual liberty) perspective. Even the Australian is basically left wing.

    The craft of journalism has been corrupted completely ever since the left got control of the tuition process.

    • Le Sphincter

      THat would explain why Wisharts little subsidised monthly barely sells at all.
      Or is he too  captured by basket weavers?

      •  NZ is crippled in terms of political perspectives. A recent NZ Herald poll showed most readers far preferred the communist Marxist Obama to Mitt Romney.

        NZ is a culturally totalitarian leftist enclave in the world, and we badly need more diversity of opinion. Until alternative views are put out there for discussion, it won’t happen.

        The public cannot raise any appetite for political choices that are not even on the menu.

    • Magoo

      The National Business Review isn’t too bad.

  • AnonWgtn

    The Sunday Pravda Times is still the worse.
    Don’t expect to see it around much longer – cannot control its vitriolic bile, from Editorials to regular outside writers. Even their advertisers are getting concerned at the dropping circulation, which has been enormous over the last couple of years, despite their “denials”.
    But what goes around comes around.

  • Phar Lap

    SST, Hubbard the back page tramp and his weird articles on National.Seems he must own the newspaper   the way he coughs up lies and fantasy,wonder how he gets away with it.Only reason is Fairfax employees are out of control .The tail wags the dog in the SST.