It seems like the media industry in the United States is not the only one feeling the economic pressure. Just recently, Fairfax Media, a news and information empire based in Sydney, Australia has reportedly fired almost 2,000 employees from their firm. The job cuts represent around one-fifth of Fairfax Media’s total workforce of 10,000. Fairfax Media is the publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age broadsheet newspapers, two of the leading dailies in Australia. In total, the corporation owns over 300 newspapers, 50 websites and 15 radio stations both in Australia and New Zealand.
According to Fairfax Media spokesman Brad Hatch, the company sees that closing down their print operations is the only viable option to stay financially afloat now and in the immediate future. Hatch also said that The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will be converted into tabloid platforms. Their respective websites will also feature pay walls in the future. The company will also close two printing plants in Sydney and Melbourne by June 2014.
Since 2009, many newspapers and other print media publications have closed down due to the adverse economic situations that have gripped the world since the recession. Newspaper readership has declined greatly in recent years and advertisement contracts have dwindled significantly. Without advertisers, a newspaper company can only go so far.
In the United States, newspaper readership went on a downward spiral in 2008 and has not recovered since. From 2008 to the middle of 2009, Business Insider reports that around 106 US-based newspapers shut down and revenue from printed advertisements fell by 30% in the first quarter of 2009. Today, many local dailies and magazines have either closed down their operations or adopted an online format in order to remain in business.
The recent firing of 1900 employees by Fairfax Media is a testament that the newspaper industry will continue to wind down and be replaced by cheaper and easily accessible online content. With Fairfax Media’s plans to digitize their two flagship newspapers, it looks like online content will be king in the coming future.
Fairfax Media’s chief executive Greg Hywood reflected that there’s not much they can do to keep their newspapers up and running. “Readers’ behaviors have changed and will not change back,” Hywood said. The current trends suggest that people are now hooked to getting information online and altering their business parameters by shifting to online avenues is only logical according to Hywood.
Online journalism, digital content and social media are changing the way people get their news and feeds. For example, making newspapers is economically expensive. From paying writers and editors to printing newspapers, print media operations greatly outweigh the simplicity and lower cost of publishing content in an electronic format.
While the media industry is still a formidable sector in terms of employment, print media and specifically newspapers, must give way to the changing times and technology. And this is not an isolated event. Newspapers around the world are suffering as their revenues go down and the costs to operate and produce go through the roof.
The media industry still thrives and demand for media personnel will remain high. However, looking at the big picture and recognizing trends like this will tell you that now is not a very good time to be entering the print media scene.