A good week for independent media

For all the justifiable fears about a drop in media plurality with the changes at Fairfax this week, three of the best pieces I’ve read over the last few days all came from independent media.

For starters, this was the week that The Conversation, co-founded by Andrew Jaspan, really arrived .

I’m sure that it helped that he used to edit The Age, but Jaspan’s decision to kick off the week with a special focus on the future of the company proved to be perfect timing when CEO Greg Hywood made his dramatic announcement just a few hours later. The Conversation set the agenda, and continued to produce a variety of perspectives on the Fairfax situation, and then turned to coverage of News Limited’s restructure.

Then came Crikey founder Eric Beecher – another former Fairfax editor – with an elegantly brutal takedown of Fairfax “functionary” chairman Roger Corbett. His anecdote of presenting a warning to the board eight years ago about the coming the loss of classified ads – and Corbett throwing the newspaper on the table and saying he didn’t want to hear it – was powerful. Even more so, his observations about the book How The Mighty Fall as businesses go from denial to grasping for salvation, and the parallels for Fairfax.

And slightly late to the party, but one of the best piece of writing comes from The Global Mail’s Bernard Lagan (yet another former Fairfax journo) who tells of the day the first internet terminal arrived in the Sydney Morning Herald newsroom.

Naturally, the established players such as News Limited’s The Australian and the ABC had plenty to contribute too. And of course, the wider question for plurality comes when the media, independent or otherwise, isn’t writing about itself.

But this week at least, there were plenty of independent, informed voices to be heard.

Tim Burrowes


  1. marianmariammary
    21 Jun 12
    5:06 pm

  2. Yes, you’re a real supporter of independent media aren’t you Tim? Really committed to the principles?

  3. mumbrella
    21 Jun 12
    5:22 pm

  4. Hi mmm,

    I suspect you’re trying to make an arch point, and I might be missing it. You do know we’re an independent publisher ourselves, right?


    Tim – Mumbrella

  5. John Grono
    21 Jun 12
    11:53 pm

  6. Ummm … Tim … that would be Bernard Lagan.

  7. mumbrella
    22 Jun 12
    7:13 am

  8. Thanks, John. Duly amended. (I blame their font…)

  9. Bill Posters
    22 Jun 12
    8:01 am

  10. “used to edit The Age… another former Fairfax editor… yet another former Fairfax journo…”

    Not really seeing the thesis borne out here.

  11. Huh?
    28 Jun 12
    10:39 am

  12. So the future is sound with independent media because they write about the demise of established media? Is this because they are independent of the resources to do the big jobs? Or because they have lots of people who used to be at Fairfax? Are they independent of advertisers? (Some evidence of that in the case of the Conversation etc)? Or of their owners’ interests (not so much evidence of that)?

  13. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rinehart's Love Child
    28 Jun 12
    11:20 am

  14. Really Tim?

    You really have to stop listening to some of the drivel you are served up about online. Seriously.Your smarter than that.

    Is the conversation profitable? Is the Global Mail profitable?

    The answer is no.

    And you honestly believe the future of independent journalism is safe. Despite the fact there is no business model supporting it? Seriously?

    Do the maths. How long would it take a publisher to recoup the COST of a strong investigiaive journalism piece online? Say a journo spent 3 months on a big story.Costs the proprietor (say) $30k to produce. Not an unreasonable amount for an important story.

    Now at a $5 cpm what proportion of Australia’s population would have to read that story for it to pay is way?

    Only 6,000,0000 readers and then we are in clover with those rivers of banner ad gold flowing straight through to the bottom line.

    Yes. The future is bright for independent media.

    PS An anecdote from Eric Beecher does equate to a healthy independent media.

  15. mumbrella
    28 Jun 12
    11:51 am

  16. Hi AB&GRLC,

    I’d suggest reading the article again. I think you’re answering some points I haven’t actually made.

    I stand by my view that the independent sites I mentioned had a good week last week.

    Have they got sustainable business models? That’s a debate that’s worth having, but it’s not an argument I was trying to make here.

    Is the future of journalism safe? That’s a debate that’s worth having too, but again it’s not an argument I was trying to make here.


    Tim – Mumbrella