Coronavirus shutting down printing of 60 newspapers...for starters

The shutdown of normal activity due to the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating many structural changes that already were underway in the economy. Now there are signs that the declining newspaper industry, where layoffs continue, may see the shuttering of many more venerable institutions. In Australia, News Corporation, the global media giant that began as a newspaper publisher, has announced that next week, 60 of its Australian newspaper will not be printed. Endangered species? (photo credit: Mike Licht)

The shutdown of normal activity due to the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating many structural changes that already were underway in the economy.  Now there are signs that the declining newspaper industry, where layoffs continue, may see the shuttering of many more venerable institutions.

In Australia, News Corporation, the global media giant that began as a newspaper publisher, has announced that next week, 60 of its Australian newspapers will not be printed.  


Endangered species? (Photo credit: Mike Licht.)

Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, writes in the Telegraph of Australia:

Today is a sad day for Australian media.

Every newspaper company's paramount mission is to get the paper out. Next week, 60 of News Corp Australia's papers won't be printed.

Our decision to suspend print editions of our community newspapers in four states to assess their viability comes as other publishers also close editions and accelerate cost reduction.

COVID-19 did not create this crisis, but it brought it to a head.

The decision we have made is pragmatic but it is made with a heavy heart as we are committed to local journalism.

These print editions have no cover price and have been decimated by the sudden collapse of retail, real estate, clubs, restaurant and event advertising.

For years, we have been managing these structural trends to transform our business from purely print to print and digital.

But digital media is not a level playing field: we are forced to fight digitally with one hand behind our back and this is the fundamental issue that must be addressed.

Australian media is passing its tipping point.

Miller notes that readers continue to consume news online and complains:

The unfairness of the digital playing field, along with Australia's draconian tangle of legislation and regulation means local companies can't compete with international platforms.

These platforms, unlike us, have no commitment to local communities.

They employ no journalists, create no content, face almost no regulation, and pay (virtually) no tax while they make unheard of profits by taking other people's content.

I believe he is referring to Facebook, Google, and Twitter, primarily.  It is not clear whether the 60 newspapers will continue to provide online content and if so, whether staff will be cut.  But as one in the business of internet publishing, I know all too well that online advertising is not sufficiently lucrative to sustain the same level of journalism that print once did.

Hat tip: John McMahon.

The shutdown of normal activity due to the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating many structural changes that already were underway in the economy. Now there are signs that the declining newspaper industry, where layoffs continue, may see the shuttering of many more venerable institutions. In Australia, News Corporation, the global media giant that began as a newspaper publisher, has announced that next week, 60 of its Australian newspaper will not be printed. Endangered species? (photo credit: Mike Licht)

The shutdown of normal activity due to the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating many structural changes that already were underway in the economy.  Now there are signs that the declining newspaper industry, where layoffs continue, may see the shuttering of many more venerable institutions.

In Australia, News Corporation, the global media giant that began as a newspaper publisher, has announced that next week, 60 of its Australian newspapers will not be printed.  


Endangered species? (Photo credit: Mike Licht.)

Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, writes in the Telegraph of Australia:

Today is a sad day for Australian media.

Every newspaper company's paramount mission is to get the paper out. Next week, 60 of News Corp Australia's papers won't be printed.

Our decision to suspend print editions of our community newspapers in four states to assess their viability comes as other publishers also close editions and accelerate cost reduction.

COVID-19 did not create this crisis, but it brought it to a head.

The decision we have made is pragmatic but it is made with a heavy heart as we are committed to local journalism.

These print editions have no cover price and have been decimated by the sudden collapse of retail, real estate, clubs, restaurant and event advertising.

For years, we have been managing these structural trends to transform our business from purely print to print and digital.

But digital media is not a level playing field: we are forced to fight digitally with one hand behind our back and this is the fundamental issue that must be addressed.

Australian media is passing its tipping point.

Miller notes that readers continue to consume news online and complains:

The unfairness of the digital playing field, along with Australia's draconian tangle of legislation and regulation means local companies can't compete with international platforms.

These platforms, unlike us, have no commitment to local communities.

They employ no journalists, create no content, face almost no regulation, and pay (virtually) no tax while they make unheard of profits by taking other people's content.

I believe he is referring to Facebook, Google, and Twitter, primarily.  It is not clear whether the 60 newspapers will continue to provide online content and if so, whether staff will be cut.  But as one in the business of internet publishing, I know all too well that online advertising is not sufficiently lucrative to sustain the same level of journalism that print once did.

Hat tip: John McMahon.