Fairfax has today announced that it will see 1,900 staff redundancies over the next three years. With falling revenue in its traditional publishing arm, the cuts will be made within its printing facilities as well as to its editorial staff cohort.
Greg Hywood, Fairfax’s chief executive, said their traditional broad sheets will move to Berliner or tabloid size and even speculated that they may move to a digital-only format in the coming years.
While this reduction in size will excite train commuters, in the fully digital age I will miss spreading the paper out on the dining table on a wintry Saturday afternoon, pot of tea at my side, peering over my glasses to the top of the page. I will miss the layout, the journey and the smug sense of satisfaction I derive from reading a paper from the first to the last page; the “news in brief” stories the sub-editors have laid down the side of the page, the careful layout of images and text. I will miss the black fingertips and the gentle flapping sound as I turn a page, the soundtrack of a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Working in marketing I place great stock in, well, stock. The tactile nature of hard copy documents naturally gives us a more sensory experience than jabbing at our smart phones. The touch and feel of paper delivers a vastly different experience than online viewing.
My mother-in-law, an astute and sensible woman pointed out the fact that, in the fully digital age we leave no tangible learning, no physical mark of our written achievements for future generations to carefully excavate and examine.
Thank god for architecture.