550 job cuts were announced on Tuesday at The Age, including a large number of high-profile journalists. The first to go was editor Andrew Jaspan. On Thursday afternoon, the rest of the staff staged a revolt and picket lines went up. Strike breakers and non-union staff were at the ready.
Fairfax has been pushing the paper to do more advertorial content. By all accounts Jaspan, as an editor, is somewhat unable to find his way out of a paper bag with both hands and a mixed metaphor, but he nevertheless refused. Now he finds himself and a large chunk of his staff in the Centrelink queue.
While this might seem at first to be an issue of strikes and unions and pickets, at its heart it's a question of news. Is it your right to have good news? News that is relatively unbiased, acceptably impartial and approximately objective? Fairfax is a company, whose aim is to make money; news doesn't necessarily make money. Ads make money.
The bottom line is this: If you normally read The Age - online or in paper format - this might be a good weekend to give it a miss. Conspicuously buy something else. Head to the ABC instead. Nothing hurts a company like a good crack to the wallet. Melbournians are known for their fierce defense of their public amenities, and I know I personally can't bear to let The Age go down without a fight.