Jaspan: Fairfax will stop print weekday newspaper within two years

Andrew JaspanFormer editor of The Age, Andrew Jaspan, says paywalls are not the answer to falling print revenue and has bravely predicted the demise of the print weekday editions of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age within two years.

Jaspan made the comments yesterday during the Mumbrella360 conference in a discussion on whether journalism is still profitable.

“I think you’ll probably see the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age stop printing within year, or two years, Monday to Friday,” said Jaspan.

“People will still want to read the printed weekends, if you’re in a cafe … but it’ll become a very expensive premium price thing.”  

“It was just one hundred and fifty years ago that newspapers were the cheapest way to distribute, now the cheapest way is online, the most expensive way is actually through newspapers. Newspapers are going to become premium price and we’re going to sell less of them”.

Jaspan, the editor of website The Conversation, was joined on the panel News Limited editorial director Campbell Reid, former CBA CMO Andy Lark, Lisa Messenger owner of Messenger Group and Mumbrella editor-in-chief Tim Burrowes.

In the wake of Jaspan’s outspoken remarks Reid conceded that paywall alone were not “silver bullet”.

“Nobody is saying the metered model is the silver bullet to solve all our problems but we also know a sustainable digital model in future needs other sources of revenue,” said Reid citing transactional revenue, micropayments and licencing of content.

Jaspan also questioned the ongoing relevance of local papers covering world news, given that most of information was just being culminated from other sources anyway.

“Now you can just read the New York Times every morning, you don’t need local aggregators anymore, so the real issue is what’s the point of local newspapers? The point of local newspapers is not to tell you what’s going on in Syria or elsewhere but to tell you what’s going on locally.”

Jaspan also claims this will drive the rise of “hyper-local newspapers” that focus on community stories, leaving a  few major mastheads left to dominate the global market.

“But what you will have are big brands, like the New York Times, like The Guardian, like the Financial Times, like the Wall Street Journal, these will become global brands that everybody in Mumbai through to New York will reading, and then they will be supplemented by local stuff”, he said.

Julian van der Zee


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