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Media Intelligence : 2008 Intelligence
Re-balancing in the new media landscape Bruce Wolpe, Director of Corporate Affairs, Fairfax Media explains why constant innovation is essential. How are newspapers keeping up in a media landscape that is constantly changing and evolving? The key thing is innovation. If you don’t innovate, you die and at Fairfax what we have tried to do in all the channels of print we have, is constant innovation. We have had major re-designs of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and we constantly try and create value in editorial environments. You don’t get advertisers unless you are attracting people with the quality of news that you have, and so a focus on editorial improvement is a constant driver around which everything else is defined. The Newspaper Works was launched in July 2006. How would you rate the performance so far? The performance has been good in two respects. It is the fi rst time in three decades that all the newspaper publishers have joined together in a trade marketing initiative, and we have also got the attention of the advertising community by letting them knowthat newspapers are serious about contesting the future. The recent advertising campaign has been well received. The anecdotal evidence we have back from agencies and buyers is that it has caught their eye. They are paying attention to us for the fi rst time in a long time. Newspaper Inserted Magazines (NIMs) are obviously a large part of the Fairfax offering. Do you see any room for growth? We see huge growth. There was significant revenue growth in all of our NIMs over the last financial year. We see growth at the expense of newsstand magazines. Good Weekend is the number one revenue earner in the entire magazine industry in the country, and we think that is pretty powerful. There has been signifi cant success with The Sydney Magazine and The Age Melbourne Magazine in very short periods of time, and we have had newsstand growth with Travel + Leisure that has also been very positive. We are bullish on magazines and the publisher of magazines, Lisa Hudson, has said that we want to expand the portfolio and when we can, we will. It is a magazine market, but as far as share is concerned, we believe we are growing share. We also think that the NIMs help strengthen the newspapers. Imagine the Saturday paper without The Good Weekend! What is the biggest threat to newspapers? The biggest threat is the share of classified advertising dollars going online. That hurts in one way because revenues are being diverted from print in certain categories to online. On the other hand, we are pretty strong online, and those revenues are exploding. (CEO) David Kirk calls it a “re-balancing”. Newspapers aren’t going to lose all of their revenues, and in fact display advertising continues to grow. Classifi ed advertising is growing too, but growing more slowly than it did before. The overall market is also bigger. More people are reading the SMH and The Age than ever before in the history of this company, but a signifi cant audience of that is now online. What is happening at Fairfax Media in the next 6-12 months? We have an aggressive strategy of positioning our content across newsprint and digital. Digital is incredibly important for updates and breaking news, and the newspaper is more important for analysis and opinion in-depth. We are trying to strengthen those attributes so that we have the best online news sites which are where you want to go when something is happening, and we want to tell you why the world looks the way it looks in print and keep attracting audiences there. MEDIA Trends + Strategy 51