FAIRFAX Media’s announcement on Monday that substantial changes will be made to parts of its operation is likely to have minimal impact on the company’s regional publishing activities – including at Great Lakes Advocate, according to Fairfax Regional Media (FRM) chief executive officer and publisher Allan Browne.
In a statement to staff, Mr Browne said the proposed changes were in response to significant revenue pressures and sweeping structural changes that have challenged the economics of the metropolitan publishing businesses.
However, Mr Browne said FRM had or would introduce a number of its own initiatives as part of its role in the Fairfax of the Future program including centralised hubs in the advertising and editorial production areas - including the recently announced proposals for the Newcastle and Wollongong area newspapers.
The initiatives, which reflected the changing media environment, would be introduced over the next two years.
“In Fairfax Regional Media we are also dealing with difficult conditions,” Mr Browne said.
“However, while there is considerable variation in the trading environment across the various regional economies in which we do business, it is generally cyclical conditions rather than structural change that is causing us greater challenge.”
Mr Browne said an important difference between the position of the company’s regional papers and the metropolitan mastheads was the proportion of the population that reads Fairfax’s printed papers.
“Across Fairfax Regional Media, it is generally 70-80 per cent of the community that reads our papers. This can be contrasted with the metropolitan newspapers where the figure is closer to 15-20 per cent, but with a much larger percentage accessing Fairfax content through digital platforms.Mr Browne said changes were part of a far-reaching program, designed to comprehensively restructure and reposition parts of Fairfax Media for years to come.
“The period ahead will be difficult for those parts of the business directly affected,” Mr Browne said.
“In Fairfax Regional Media, we must not lose sight of the importance of our deep connection with the communities that we serve. This has been key to our success for many decades, as it will be for decades to come.”