ABC MD Mark Scott: Take away Fairfax’s print presence and what are you left with?
In an interview with Mumbrella’s sister title Encore, ABC managing editor Mark Scott – a former editorial director and editor-in-chief at Fairfax – said that wide newspaper distribution contributed to the company’s influence.
Fairfax Media has said that it will relaunch its Sydney and Melbourne broadsheets The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age as tabloids on March 4. But Fairfax is closing print works and CEO Greg Hywood also signalled that the company is preparing for the day when it is no longer in the print business.
Asked about the outlook for the newspaper industry, Scott said: “I think it’s really challenged. What I wonder a little bit about – if you take away the print presence how much harder it is to exist in a world that’s only online.
“There’s speculation Fairfax will get out of print down the track. How strong are those websites without hundreds of thousands of those newspapers flooding around? I don’t think we know that.
“Part of the challenge about the newspaper business, there is no playbook… Nobody has cracked the answer to it.
There’s no doubt if you are a big global brand like a Wall Street Journal or a Financial Times or a New York Times then you are in a better position than many others but there’s no answer that everybody is copying.”
Asked whether he could ever see a return to the newspaper industry for himself, Scott said: “Around the world newspapers are struggling and it’s a challenge so I look very carefully and closely at what different people are doing, but I don’t see myself back in the newspaper business.”
Fairfax is not short of advice from former executives. This week, Andrew Jaspan, former editor-in-chief of The Age and The Sunday Age predicted that the move to tabloid format would effectively see the two titles merge. He also suggested they would move downmarket. His predictions were angrily denied by Fairfax’s editorial director Garry Linnell who said that a move by The Age to the mid-market by Jaspan had been a failure.
And last year, former SMH editor Eric Beecher claimed that in 2004 he had briefed the board about the impact of online on newspaper revenues and director Roger Corbett – now chairman – had refused to listen to his warnings.
- To view the video of Encore’s interview with Mark Scott, download the new Encore weekly tablet app