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.