The loss of over 100 jobs at Fairfax Media, publishers of The Age and SMH, are a devastating blow for public interest journalism and for arts and music. We share commentary from key figures and urge all our readers to take a stand.
Bernard Zuel – senior music writer Fairfax Media
“So here’s the deal at Fairfax: there are 115 people who will lose jobs. After nearly 100 went a year ago. And several hundred have gone in the five years before that. That’s decades of experience, depth of knowledge, skills and quality.
There will be cuts to the payments of the contributors …That’s their livelihoods… Culture coverage will be severely compromised as EG and Shortlist will disappear, Monday-Friday arts space is haphazard or at times non-existent and Saturday and Sunday are squeezed smaller and smaller.
There will be no specialist arts writers, no dedicated staff covering culture in all its forms …
Theatre and concert reviews? Literature? Features on local artists and visiting ones? Album reviews? News on funding and management? Discussion of life? Forget about it.
So if you consume arts and culture, or work in it, or care about it – which is most of you – this is where you can watch it slide away or make an effort to save it.” On Facebook
Tony Hillier – roots and world music reviewer:
“It pains me to witness the rapid disintegration of journalism, especially print media, with the excision of 125 more full-time staff jobs by Fairfax on World Press Freedom Day (of all days!), pretty well decimating a once proud publishing company — one which provided me with my first employment in Australia.” On Facebook
Lenore Taylor Editor, The Guardian Australia
As Lenore Taylor puts it: “A strong journalistic culture is worth fighting for. So is a business model that serves and rewards media organisations that put the search for truth at the heart of everything – building an informed, active public that scrutinises the powerful, not an ill-informed, reactionary gang that attacks the vulnerable.”
We Must Act
We cannot stand idly by while the creative class slides away. If we value our social democracy we need a healthy fourth estate. As we reported in our last issue, Music Canada head Graham Henderson is one of many calling out the disruption for what it is:
“The gutting of the creative class over the past two decades has been presented as an inevitability. It is time we question this supposition. We must resist the idea that we cannot change the circumstances in which we live.” In noting the value of a social democracy, he urges us to use it “to restore the balance”.
This can be done through those who have benefited from the change. Lenore Taylor quotes researchers who suggest that major tech companies, who are increasingly publishers, take on responsibility for quality journalism. She notes there is also an increasing role for public funding as is happening in countries like France and Canada.
You Can Help
Write to Fairfax management, have your group or company do the same, and let your local member know this matters. It really does. We must support quality public interest journalism; music will benefit as will we all.