As of tomorrow, The Age won’t be including the once-monopoly real-estate supplement Domain in its “early edition” that is distributed to its dwindling number of readers in country Victoria.
The Herald Sun has always been a strong performer in the country with this change the final insult for country readers of The Age.
The spiral of death continues for The Age, with their circulation czar Liz Earl’s admission that “economic pressure” is behind the change, confirming media industry gossip that The Age is in serious economic difficulty, with its closure not so much a question now of if but when. One broker following Fairfax stock closely says the consensus view is that The Age broke-even last year but that it will probably lose money in 2012.
Apparently, their Sydney equivalent, the Sydney Morning Herald is doing much better, with Fairfax hoping they can hang on to a viable business there while all but consigning The Age to the wheelie bin of history.
With the Age’s hacking scandal lurking like a bad smell over the ailing masthead, if it continues to get worse with possible parliamentary hearings and prosecutions, Fairfax management may well reach the same decision that News Corp did about News of the World, that they might be better off without it. NOTW was easily the best newspaper of its kind in the world and was massively profitable so it was a tough call. The Age by contrast is in seriously bad shape, with their much-vaunted ethics now the subject of great ridicule and the rivers of gold that sustained their huge editorial spend all but dried up.
A decision to close The Age, while embarrassing and ugly in many ways for Fairfax management, could happen much sooner than anyone realises if the profit numbers are as bad as widely speculated and if the hacking scandal gets much worse. Their end is nigh.