"On all the key performance indicators — circulation, readership and revenue — The Age is performing poorly," declares a confidential report by certain “concerned citizens” which has come into the hands of The Australian ( “The Age staring at collapse in profits,” by Mark Day, 6/12)
"From being in a strong commercial position five years ago,” the report says” it is now dangerously close to the tipping point, where it could potentially go out of business, leaving Melbourne as a one-newspaper town."
…a litany of decline…
Mark Day says the report — The Age: a litany of decline — has been prepared as the basis of a planned public vote of no confidence in Fairfax management. He says the campaign by the group of "concerned citizens" includes several former Age executives, and is expected to be launched early next year in the form of an online petition calling for urgent action to save The Age."It is time for the facts of The Age's plight to become known publicly," the report states.
"Those who value media diversity and the role The Age plays in the Victorian community should be aware of the situation facing the paper so that every effort can be made to pressure the Fairfax board into making urgent changes to ensure the 156-year-old newspaper remains in Melbourne."
…ultra republicanism, a symptom …
The five year decline in The Age coincides with the newspaper moving from offering the support most of the mainstream Australian media give to republican change to becoming the leading advocate for early change to some politicians’ republic and for the early shredding of the flag.
We are not so naive as to say this is the cause of the Age’s decline. But it is consistent with a direction out of touch with the thinking of Melbournians and indeed Victorians and especially of the readers of The Age, especially the rank and file home subscribers who have held on loyally only to be regularly kicked in the teeth by an editorial direction which holds them and their views in contempt.
..and the Herald?…
[Continued below] The Fairfax stable mate The Sydney Morning Herald should not gloat but should draw the appropriate lessons from this before it too heads down the same path.
The Australian woke up years after the referendum that its behaviour then was hardly consistent with being the serious newspaper it purported to be.
It cannot bring itself to reconsider its republican inevitabalism, as a questioning paper should, but at least it has consigned this to the background.
The newspaper is no longer a facsimile of the Herald and The Age, and its letter pages are no longer dominated by one school of thought. It carries opinion from across the spectrum.
The Australian today is a vast improvement on what it was ten years ago. As a result it can reasonably claim to be the nation's leading serious newspaper.