Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sign Of The Times?

For 25 years Jonathan Chancellor has been the nation's expert on movements in the property business. Whether it was a soap star selling or buying an apartment or a high flyer trading up in the mansion market, Chancellor has his finger on the pulse.

Now the Shuttle hears that he is moving from Fairfax Newspapers to the top political website having been snapped up by former Fairfax managing editor Eric Beecher who now owns crikey.

Chancellor's extensive list of contacts within the property market rivals none and he has been the author of numerous scoops on who is going where in the homes market. Often it's an indicator of how the economy is travelling.

In a country obsessed by property prices, reading what the rich and powerful pay for where they live is eagerly perused by those in the suburbs. Jonathan is widely published in various Fairfax newspapers that include the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Canberra TimesAustralian Financial Review and the West Australian.

Is it a wise move ?. Fairfax were one of the first of the Australian newspaper networks to move into the Internet world pre-2000 and at the time they were much criticised but it stood them well for the future with Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd playing catch-up ever since. Murdoch has admitted as much.

Legend has it that when he was CEO at News Ltd, Lachlan Murdoch sent a memo around to staff saying not to spend too much time accessing the net as it was a 'passing fad'.

Fairfax's huge yearly profits- the 'Rivers Of Gold' as the late media mogul Kerry Packer coined them, come from it's classified advertising in which it has dominated the Australian market for decades.

The current CEO of Fairfax Greg Hywood was on the ABC's Media Watch last week and scoffed at the idea that printed newspapers were a dying industry as the British media writer Roy Greenslade proclaimed them to be in this article :More US newspapers dying by the day.
Greenslade writes for The Guardian in the UK which along with the Daily Mail have been the two British newspapers to reap a windfall with their internet websites.
Jonathan Holmes
Responding to presenter Jonathan Holmes question on whether  "the newspaper model-is it a dead duck?, Hywood said  "of course it’s not. I mean some newspapers may go but many will survive".
Despite his comments staff levels at Fairfax have been cut by 50% over the past ten years.

Crikey was started by former Victorian premier Jeff Kennet staffer Stephen Mayne in 2001 and despite having to mortgage his home once to pay legal fees, Mayne sold the site in 2005 for $1M.

It's sign of the times that Chancellor would move from the relative security of Fairfax to the much smaller publishing world of crikey.
Read Jonathon Holmes full interview with Greg Hywood at Media Watch ABC TV.
Stephen Mayne now publishes the internet shareholder's activist website The Mayne Report.
Perhaps perfectly illustratimg the tensions within the publishing world of today : watch the legendary attack upon Mayne at the newspaper gongs- The Walkley Awards as political writer Glenn Milne-revved up on flu medication scuffles with Mayne :