Fairfax cancels Guardian copy-usage agreement

Fairfax Media has ended its use of copy from The Guardian two days after the poaching of two of its most prominent political reporters for the British title’s Australian launch.

Mumbrella understands from sources inside Fairfax that the move is not retaliatory but rather because The Guardian is now viewed as a competitor.

Fairfax, whose titles include The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, has declined to comment, saying it does not discuss commercial arrangements.

Earlier this year, The Guardian confirmed it would launch an Australian operation led by the paper’s deputy editor Katharine Viner and commercially backed by entrepreneur Graeme Wood. This week it emerged that The Sydney Morning Herald’s chief political correspondent Lenore Taylor and The Age’s national affairs correspondent Katharine Murphy were leaving to take up positions with The Guardian, covering Australian politics.

The loss of the copy-usage agreement will mean that stories from The Guardian will no longer appear in print or on the websites of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Fairfax has traditionally used Guardian News & Media copy in its international coverage as a complement to its overseas bureaus.

Nic Christensen


  1. News digester
    13 Feb 13
    9:45 am

  2. The gloves are off. Sadly the suits at Fairfax will slowly turn the online edition of SMH and The Age into tabloid dross, so bring on the quality from The Guardian!

    The more mastheads in Australia the better and hopefully we can dilute the Murdoch right wing agenda from the middle.

  3. Andrew Duffy
    13 Feb 13
    10:03 am

  4. The move makes sense.

    I’ll be really interested to see out how much market share The Guardian snaps up. It could go either way.

  5. Anonymous
    13 Feb 13
    10:09 am

  6. Good – they always ran them on the Age site at least a day late anyway, therefore misunderstanding how anyone uses the internet anywhere.

  7. AdGrunt
    13 Feb 13
    10:45 am

  8. Can’t wait for the Guardian to hit Australia.

    I honestly feel sorry for Fairfax and News having a new competitor with such pedigree.

  9. Good Moron
    13 Feb 13
    11:02 am

  10. That’s a lot of stories going missing.

    A quick test shows 5185 on the SMH site today:


    Of course, there are plenty of other places to buy them. Or they could employ more journos?

  11. Andrew Duffy
    13 Feb 13
    11:23 am

  12. Seems a lot, but it looks to be something like 2-5 stories a day.

    And Anonymous is right, I doubt they’ll be missed much.

  13. Robbo
    13 Feb 13
    1:37 pm

  14. You are joking, surely, AdGrunt?

  15. Fairenough
    13 Feb 13
    2:16 pm

  16. AdGrunt, agreed! Hopefully it’ll push the quality of newspapers up in this country and catapult them out of their sleepy, un-engaging current format.

    Nothing like a bit of healthy competition.

  17. AdGrunt
    13 Feb 13
    2:29 pm

  18. No, Robbo. I’m not.

  19. News Digester
    13 Feb 13
    2:45 pm

  20. Who will take on Murdoch in the middle Australia market? Or is that what SMH and The Age are going to attempt to do online, by killing their broadsheet and subsequent credibility and then fight it out against the Tele / Courier Mail etc? KFC and Macca’s will love to get homepage sponsorships on those when that happens.

    International, credible media brands will begin to go global. Most are already global, even if their models are not yet set up to capitalise on being global. (Does that make sense?)

    The BBC site rocks and they must be raking in $’s from international ad revenues! Does anyone have any figures for the BBC in terms of the revenues?

  21. Good Moron
    13 Feb 13
    2:56 pm

  22. I’m with AdGrunt – a very good competitor and particularly threatening when you’re considering metered access to your sites or have a paywall already.

    The fact that SMH has 5185 Guardian articles on it shows you that they consider Guardian content to be very good.

  23. Lindsay.
    13 Feb 13
    3:04 pm

  24. Hopefully The Guardian will get some people to look at it, especially as it should add some much needed quality to the local media market. But most news web sites need some type of print edition to attract and maintain a big audience. So unless we get to see a print edition of a local Guardian, numbers on the Australian web site could be well below expectations.

  25. Sales gun
    13 Feb 13
    3:25 pm

  26. Does anyone know who is running their sales operation down here?

  27. Neon
    13 Feb 13
    4:27 pm

  28. The Gaurdian in Oz will fail miserably like it is doing in the UK .

    If not for the Trust Fund, it would be long gone.

  29. Masher
    13 Feb 13
    5:04 pm

  30. Neon – the paper’s name is The Guardian, not Gaurdian, and it has depended for its existence on the Scott Trust for 75 years. That’s why the Scott Trust was set up. And it is not “failing miserably” in the UK – it is doing no worse than most newspapers these days. Even the almighty Murdoch’s rags are losing money hand over fist.

    With news sense like yours, you really should pick another topic to comment on.

  31. JohnRMcD
    13 Feb 13
    5:19 pm

  32. So the Grauniad is coming to Australia…. Woopie!! That is SO exciting…

  33. My Commisserations
    13 Feb 13
    5:44 pm

  34. I feel sorry for you Aussies, just when we thought we managed to contain the Guardian cancer in the UK it metastasises to the southern hemisphere. I only hope you are better at excising it than we are.

  35. Goodness me
    13 Feb 13
    6:15 pm

  36. Sorry to be unhelpful. But fir those who cant wait for the guardian web site to artive in australia can i suggest that you fly to london. Please. It will be good for you. And the web site is much better in england. True.

  37. Burbs
    13 Feb 13
    7:27 pm

  38. @sales gun – yes, Inception Digital do…

  39. Good Moron
    13 Feb 13
    8:14 pm

  40. @Neon

    I thought The Guardian already had 1.2m UBs a month in AU and is the fifth most read newspaper website in the world?

  41. Cathy Vogan
    14 Feb 13
    6:15 am

  42. I’m sure Julian Assange will be delighted

  43. cathy
    14 Feb 13
    6:44 am

  44. So happy the Guardian is comeing to Aus! We desperately need a quality news outlet.

  45. Chris Columbus
    14 Feb 13
    8:23 am

  46. I’ve had The Guardian app on my smart Phone in Australia for 2 years. I read it free every day. George Monbiot contributed an article on Tony Abbott recently so it will be great to read more frequent contributions on Australian politics. The book and culture sections are fantastic.

  47. Oscar
    14 Feb 13
    8:35 am

  48. Fairfax still have the runs on the board but their websites are ever so dreary and need to be vamped up quick smart.
    Doubt the loss of The Guardian’s copy will hurt and as others point out, running it a day or 2 late was like an insult or showed an ignorance of the internet.

    Fairfax could benefit by re-opening a London office but that won’t happen will it?

  49. Lindsay.
    14 Feb 13
    11:45 am

  50. Oscar, you might be right about Fairfax needing an office in London, but it would be better if they reopened their offices in Sydney and Melbourne first.

  51. BBC Lover
    14 Feb 13
    11:53 am

  52. Agree with News Digester, BBC is awesome. Apps are free and desktop uncluttered!!
    Quality credible stuff. Be interesting to see if they are affected at all by the Guardian launching in AU….

  53. News Digester
    14 Feb 13
    12:26 pm

  54. Funny how the anti Guardian comments on this thread all seem to have spelling mistakes in their sentences?

    Must be Murdoch press readers 😉

  55. Chris Columbus
    14 Feb 13
    4:17 pm

  56. It’s an interesting observation you make News Digester. Yesterday, in his entertaining blog, Bob Ellis shared an hilarious metaphor:
    “Mark Rubio packed the rhetorical punch of the captain of Lindfield High and the sexual zing of David Penberthy”.
    So far there has been no uproar from the few right-wing readers and trolls that he attracts. I think it may be a comprehension problem.

  57. Bye bye journalism!
    14 Feb 13
    6:33 pm

  58. On the bright side, if the Guardian cannibalises the proggy newspaper audience in Aus the same way al-Jazeera will deplete MSNBC and CNN’s already weak viewerships in the US, it’ll accelerate the destruction of this worthless profession.

    “I think it may be a comprehension problem.”

    It would help if Mr Ellis had the competence to spell Mr Rubio’s forename correctly.

  59. Jen
    18 Feb 13
    3:10 pm

  60. Can’t say that I’m happy about The Guardian coming to Australia and pilfering good Fairfax Media employers. Will Fairfax newspapers be reduced to covering local affairs in a twilight zone between Murdochian tabloid fodder and so’called progressive liberal media?

    I really think The Guardian should be of and for Britain with a distinctive British voice. I would not like to see The Guardian turn into a mouthpiece for a global rootless self-congratulating “liberal” elite.

  61. Lindsay.
    18 Feb 13
    6:37 pm

  62. Jen, The Guardian can only consider putting out a quality Australian web site because Fairfax and News Limited have stopped producing quality to concentrate on cost cutting. It is many decades since Fairfax got management right and they have destroyed most of the good will that once existed for their newspapers.

  63. Centre Left
    18 Feb 13
    8:31 pm

  64. @ Jen. Then should Nike only be sold in America and Volvo’s only in Sweden? If there is a gap in a market and an oversea’s brand wants to have a stab as a result, then why ever not?

    Agreed with Lindsay. Murdoch tabloids are tripe and Fairfax certainly could lift it’s game. Hey ho, sometimes a new competitor makes the others lift their game – lets hope so…

  65. Jen
    21 Feb 13
    10:24 am

  66. @ Lindsay, Centre Left: I suspect The Guardian kicked out a lot of journalists and editors last year to make room in its budget for a push into the Asian news market through an Australian spear-head.

    The Guardian has an American edition as well but not necessarily to provide quality news reporting in North America. Last year when the paper took Glenn Greenwald from Salon.com, it took Josh Trevino, a former speech-writer for President George W Bush, on board as well. Fortunately a Palestinian human rights activist spotted what The Guardian had done and raised a protest. The Guardian dropped Trevino after claiming that he’d not fully advised them of all his interests.

    The Guardian has also consistently bashed Julian Assange in editorials and online article posts too numerous to mention.

  67. Centre Left
    21 Feb 13
    3:11 pm

  68. @Jen comment 33

    And your point is?

  69. James
    10 Mar 13
    8:20 pm

  70. Bring it on! How many Newspapers did the UK have when it had the same population that we have now. We are sadly under reported.

  71. evarard
    15 Mar 13
    3:03 am

  72. Fairfax seems to have decided to go for the same elderly readers as News, probably because most of the profit is in the print editions.

    Look at the commentators in “National Times”. They’re all either Liberal party people, or former Howard speech writers, or people from the IPA, BCA, CAI or other right wing lobbyists.