Wednesday, May 05, 2004

W(h)ither the Australian Financial Review?

I don't follow Stephen "Crikey" Mayne's logic when he queries:

Does the AFR produce good enough content to justify its premium pricing when so many journalists keep leaving?

While I can see that excessive staff turnover is generally bad for business morale (and so productivity), the nature of the journalist job market in Australia is (and has been since the 1980s) that anyone who leaves is immediately replaceable by someone who is at least as good. (Qualification: if they are straight out of uni, it may take them a week to learn the ropes).

If the "Chanticleer" column is an exception to this - i.e. it relies on the power of a person's Rolodex more than their journalistic nouse and general knowledge of business - then I admit the AFR may have a problem here.
But if so, this is a problem of output, not input. If someone needs a fat Rolodex just to write "Chanticleer", this is admitting that the column is nothing more than a clubby newsletter for insider chums.

Which, I suspect, is indeed why the AFR's circulation languishes - which is surely, BTW, more of a public-interest story than that of its staff turnover. Nothing is more boring - unless, I guess, your name is on one one them - than the sound of Rolodexes turning, turning, and turning over.

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