Thursday, 26 April 2007

Fairfax Media CEO David Kirk today announced that in the first half of 2008 The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age — the two premier metropolitan broadsheets in Australia — will be reduced in size "so that [readers] can spend more time with our newspapers".

I'm not sure I understand what he means. For commuters, certainly, a narrower format may be welcome. Personally, I do not see the benefit. Presumably, Fairfax editors will include additional pages to contain the stories displaced by the reduction.

The Australian broke the story this morning and the SMH followed soon after.

The change in format will be accompanied by "integration of production staff ... at both mastheads". "[B]ut not reporters or photographers."

At One Darling Island, online and print editors will be working on newsdesks across from each other. There will be a massive multimedia wall that will bring the world to our newsroom and connect us with the world. Editorial decisions will be made with print, internet and mobile options available. Video will be a bigger part of what we offer online.

"[W]e will undertake a voluntary redundancy program for Herald Publications production staff, in the range of 30-35 FTEs." That means around 30 people will be retrenched. But not reporters. This is to flag Fairfax' commitment to producing quality content.

"[Kirk] said the company had not finalised what the new size would be although The New York Times was cited as an example of the type of narrower broadsheet that Fairfax is paying "particular attention" to."

The news follows a fall in earnings at Fairfax, which reported a 2.7 per cent drop in net profit to $121 million for the half year ending December 31 last year.

I have been watching the treatment books pages have received of late in U.S. newspapers. The litbloggers are posting on this topic almost daily. It will be interesting to see if the SMH attacks its culture pages, in the weekend Spectrum supplement.

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