Australian Mainstream Press Prognosis: Flu With A Hint of Creeping Death?

Earlier this month, media-watchers were informed of Fairfax’s decision to ditch hundreds of sub-editors in the name of cost-cutting by outsourcing the heavy lifting of sub-editing to AAP’s Pagemasters. Mel Campbell has already written an enlightening and witty piece on this topic in New Matilda. Considering the role that sub-editors play in checking for errors in copy both mundane and extraordinary, this is a disquieting development indeed.

In a same-but-different vein, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited reported a $200 million drop in net profits in the third quarter. Unsurprisingly, Old Rupert pinned this dismal result on a lack of blue humanoids rather than any possible decline of clout. Aside from the old ‘news businesses are dying’ mantra (a mantra has arguably been swirling around since newspapers first became identified with the mass media), what are these signals telling us?

In the case of News Ltd, it may be good news for those of us who don’t appreciate so many trees being cut down for inky toilet paper. ABC’s Lateline has reported that Murdoch’s newspaper operation in Australia is the source of their profit hemorrhage. Evidence suggests 2010 was the International Year of “Piss Off, Rupert”. Operation Bolt Cutter may very well be another signpost on a long yet intellectually beautiful road. The internet is slowly but surely winning. “Yay” for the rest of us.

These figures and reports represent a very real disconnect between what Big Old News Media spouts on a daily basis and what the public actually cares about. Yay for the rest of us.

News Ltd et al are yet to lose their stranglehold on public perceptions of reality, but there is no doubt that their Facehugger-style window on the world is slowly losing its grip and allowing normal people to breathe. The beast is slowly dying, and will surely cost untold monies in palliative care to shareholders.

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