13 Dec 2010

Big changes at Fairfax Media

7:13 am on 13 December 2010

There were big changes last week in trans-Tasman media group Fairfax Media, Australia's oldest media company - and also one of the most volatile.

In one week, it lost chief executive Brian McCarthy and experienced a sharemarket raid by mining heiress Gina Reinhart who acquired 2% of the shares.

Mr McCarthy quit suddenly after failing to sell investors on a restructuring plan.

Radio New Zealand's Sydney correspondent says that like most print media, Fairfax's problem is finding a new business model to survive in an online world.

But it has added to its plight through indecision and boardroom instability.

Its flagship papers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Melbourne Age are bleeding readers and its online strategy has been criticised as incoherent.

New acting chief executive, former Financial Review editor Greg Hywood, is at least a journalist. So he understands the business.

But Radio New Zealand's correspondent says it's the politics he needs to watch out for.

Fairfax titles in New Zealand include The Dominion Post, The Sunday Star-Times and the Trade Me website.