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You’d think it was the end of the world when you see things like this crap from The Oz

“Ads in newspapers suffered the biggest two-month fall in the 30-year history of the ANZ job ads survey.”

Of course the newspaper figures are always quoted first

Jobs ads in newspapers fell by 12 per cent to 11,767, following October’s 12.1 per cent fall, and declined by a yearly pace of 42.7 per cent.

And then the internet job stats follow

Internet advertisements, meanwhile, dropped by 8.4 per cent in November, to a near two-year low of 199,433, following October’s 5.5 per cent drop, and falling by an annual pace of 16.6 per cent.

Notice the meanwhile, because the internet job ads are an after thought.

But look at the hard figures: 11,767 newspaper job ads vs 199,433 internet job ads.

Memo to Australian journalists: no reasoned objective view of these figures could possibly maintain the primacy of newspaper job advertising rates in any report on job ads. Indeed, the newspaper job advertising marketplace in Australia is so low, there would be a reasoned argument that they shouldn’t be mentioned at all.

You wouldn’t mention a drop in the sales of Alfa Romeos as being representative of the whole car sales market, so why in 2008 are Australian newspapers still doing the same with job ads.

Fail with a dose of delusion on top.

I’ve seen similar figures before, but they still amaze me. The Oz reports that job ads are down in Australia, a sure sign of a slowing economy. But the interesting part is in the divide between online and print. According to the numbers, weekly job advertisements in Australian newspapers averaged 15,105 a week in August, vs 234,009 online per week.

You did read that right. 234,009 jobs a week online, 15,105 in print. The online jobs market in Australia is now 15.6x larger than the print market. Print now delivers only 6% of all job ads in Australia where as ten years ago the figure would have been close to 100%., the nations leading job site, launched in March 1998.

We know that real estate and cars sales are heading in the same direction. Niche publications target the general classifieds market (Trading Post/ Quokka). This is the bread and butter of newsprint, and it’s disappearing in our life time in Australia, and strangely enough, at a likely quicker rate than the United States.

Our newspapers are slimmer and leaner than their American cousins, thanks to the consolidation in the late 80s, early 90s, and and the Fairfax titles rank well in terms of internet traffic, a small saving grace. And yet, denied the one thing that has kept them going for so long, there will be pain and blood letting ahead.

Fairfax journos have returned to work after a four day strike over pay and jobs cuts. The journos claim the cuts threaten the delivery of “quality journalism” but still appear to be happening despite the return to work.

Norg Media’s Bronwen Clune isn’t shy in her opinion of the strikers:

If you are one of the journalists standing in a picket line outside The Age and SMH, I have to ask – do you realise how pathetic you look?
If there was a journalists equivalent to the forlorn lovers ?¢‚Ǩ?ìHe?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not into you?¢‚Ǩ¬ù I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d be suggesting you read it. It?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s time for some straight-talking, so forgive me if my words sound harsh and unsympathetic, but it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not like the writing hasn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t been on the wall for some time now. Break-ups are tough, but you can get over this and move on to better, brighter things.

The key line

Let?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s start with the basics. Fairfax and other news monoliths like it cannot survive in the future.

She is of course right, there is zero way big media can survive in Australia the way it is currently structured, but this is not to say that media owners are completely stupid and haven’t gotten the memo yet.

The problem is getting to a long term sustainable model, and as we’ve seen with the strike, the journos are going to fight every step of the way.

I believe that some journos will have been on strike in general solidarity to their brothers (or sisters) in the profession, but realize that the change they seek to prevent is like Tibetan monks facing the Chinese army: doomed to failure.

The change is on, the shift is away from the giant media monoliths of old to new media and nearly unlimited choice. The newspaper market consolidated when I was a kid to leave two daily papers in Sydney and Melbourne due to competition and costs, and yet today the Herald and the Age compete not with the Hun and Tele alone, but an internet that delivers a world of free choice, so that I can be in a cab in Sydney reading the NY Times in preference to the Fin. The market reality no matter how well newspaper circulation stats are spun (static circulation shows a decline in overall reader numbers as a % of the population) is that less people are reading newspapers.

Couple the decline to the even quicker fall in the classified market as real estate, jobs, and just about every other sector switch to online alternatives. Even if we take a lower rate of decline in circulation, the money that has traditionally propped up papers is disappearing. Nothing now will change this, and the only thing left to do is to make the most of what is left.

I believe News and Fairfax may have futures, but in 20 years time they’ll look nothing like they do today. Print as a physical publishing medium is dying and the internet offers an alternative, but not one that allows for corporate largess. These job cuts are the first of many to come over the next 10 years as Fairfax grapples with this change. The only question is whether the journos working there will try their best to prevent these changes by striking and further dragging the company towards oblivion, or whether they’ll work with management on better setting the company up to deal with the changes at hand so that in 10 to 20 years time, the company will still be able to employ at least some of them.