An old model which was well established and profitable is transitioning with a lot of pain to a new model, which everyone is still trying to figure out.
The old model was comfortable and cushy (for those at the top). The new model is a major change, culturally, psychologically and commercially, and it is not yet - but one day will be - profitable.
That's a lot of journalists. It's hard to imagine the company even has that many jobs left to spare. (And according to staff, they don't).
And I really feel for Fairfax. Not only because I love The Age and am a subscriber who reads it every day, but because I think in very difficult circumstances they have been forging an evolution towards an online model quite well.
New media is great. But blogs and tweets and news fragments do not fill the gap left by traditional newspapers. New media still needs journalists to write the stories, and "citizen journalists" just aren't as good.
Of course, we will get used to it. Just as we have got used to the passing of great puns in headlines (largely gone in favour of SEO), and elementary grammatical and syntax errors in broadsheet news (now that sub-editing, like everything else, is outsourced to cheap workers overseas). We got used to those things, and the world didn't collapse.
So, there is no choice - citizen journalists it shall be, and the real journalists will find work somewhere, somehow, in this new cacophony. Not all the ones being let go now, unfortunately, but future ones will.
Somehow I don't think either the paid subscription model used by most newspapers and journals online now, or the Buzzfeed model, will be the lasting profitable solution.
I wonder what it will be?
Stockbroking has always been a world of boom and bust, but ever since the 2008 crash and the Great Recession that followed (or still follows), it's been all bust. The stockbroking model as it was before then has truly broken and is never coming back. That's probably even a good thing.
Since 2008, it's been impossible to squeeze money out of traditional stockbroking. The margins are too thin; no one wants to pay for brokerage and research when they can get what they need online.
In Australia the ASX has piled more and more compliance obligations on brokers, and ever-higher liquid capital requirements to guard against insolvency collapses. In classic Law of Unintended Consequences style, the result has been an explosion of "shadow brokers" - small and nimble dealing and advisory businesses that range from serious, ethical companies with management and due process, to guys operating out of their loungerooms with, let's just say, less than that.
In the last decade that I worked in broking operations, I watched these companies come and go, the same people moving from license to license and company to company in a never-ending scramble to find some way to make money. Most of these people are straight up, love broking and just want to make money for their clients and themselves - but the landscape is unforgiving.
So now everyone knows the future is "online". The future is "robo-advice" (less risk of non-compliant customer management or advice), and "fintech".
But what is the best kind of company to run? What's the best service to offer: advice to customers, or services to dealers? How do you innovate and create a solution, and not be copied by a thousand imitators with the same access to the cloud that you have?
Time will tell.
I'd love to step 5 years into the future and see what's happening in both journalism and financial services. My guess is both will be profitable, but not exactly in ways people are building them now. The future will come up with something else.
Disclaimer: I work in FinTech and love it. :)