End is nigh for Fairfax weekday papers

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood has told the Australian public major print closures should ‘surprise no one’ and flagged the end of weekday print editions for SMH, The Age and AFR.

In a speech delivered to investors, Hywood outlined Fairfax Media’s long term plans to dissociate from print, citing digital-only publishing models as potentially the ‘next logical progression’.

Hywood describes the divorce from weekday print editions for major mastheads Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Australian Financial Review as ‘inevitable’.

“We have never shied away from the fact that we are on a print to digital journey,” says Hywood.

“People have accused us for being too pessimistic about print- perhaps it’s more a case of being too honest for their liking.”

[Related: More news: Fairfax's affair with print]

Hywood’s candour with investors suggested print closures would begin soon, flagging an end of an era for some of Australia’s most-read mastheads.

The Fairfax boss told the market a seven-day-a-week print publishing model for newspapers is no longer feasible in the digital age, and publishing will change in favour of ‘weekend only or more targeted printing’.

The print cuts and circulation slashes are likely to protract operating savings enjoyed by the media conglomerate following due to plant restructures and closures. Addressing the print industry, Hywood says ‘we expect increased industry cooperation on printing and distribution’.

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