It's funny when it finally happens.
All these years experts have been warning about the demise of the newspaper.
Many bloggers, including me, have been pointing out (gleefully, often with malice) that the emperor was rapidly losing her clothes.
Still, it has a sense of unreality about it.
Like it would have felt (would feel) if capitalism really did collapse.
Or will feel if the polar bears really do die out.
Somehow there is not much joy in finally being proven right.
When I was a paper boy (sometime back in the late 60s, early 70s), Sydney had two afternoon newspapers each producing several editions. The most important edition on Saturdays was the one that had the details of the 'last race'.
People waited for those newspapers, and those editions, their daily lives were marked by them.
I had a little book of the regulars, people who got the same paper everyday - and you were deeply unpopular if you were late or 'forgot'.
The Daily Mirror was full of page 3 bikini girls and tales about the markers of degradation and civilisation-destroying events like the release of Easy Rider (it sounded very interesting to this teenager). The Sun, the fairfax rival, was more sombre and serious. As a paper boy you got to know that some people were Mirror readers and some were Sun readers, and a few good customers even bought both.
And so like many of us in the older demographic, I loved newspapers. In Canberra, we got most of them every morning (AFR, Tele, SMH, Age, Australian, CT). We were well-informed and across things.
But then the Internet - and the excitement of reading the NY Times and London Times and Washington Post online as they hit the streets in their home cities. I first got online in 1996, you could see the power and potential of the Internet from the first 'web-surfing' session.
Now there is so much to read that it is pointless to get (nearly) everything - there's not enough time. The ambition to be across everything happening has been made absurd.
I now read free stuff from around the english speaking world.
I subscribe to a couple of magazine online (Harpers, NY Review of Books, Le Monde monthly) and read them on my tablet. We still get the New Yorker the old way through the letter box, often it goes unopened because it is just easier and more fun to read the tablet version.
Occasionally, I buy a single issue of a newspaper to read on my tablet, but when I do it's usually the International Herald Tribune.
They give away the SMH at the gym, but I can't even be bothered picking it up anymore - just more stuff to go in the recycling bin.
I wouldn't go back to the old days - I'm not that nostalgic.
The choice today is just too wonderful.
But choice means I don't want 'editions' and 'subscriptions' much anymore - I just want articles.
I use aggregators and twitter pointers to find those articles, as well as a few favourite bloggers who provide a similiar service.
How does journalism survive in a disaggregated world saturated by consumer choice?
I don't think anyone knows, we're still in the early days of the Internet and the digital revolution.
There'll be a lot more creative destruction before this technology reaches maturity.
One thing I do remember from the days I read Alfred Sloan is that old companies have a poor track record making the jump to a new technology. Qantas didn't start life as a railway company.
I'm not sure that Fairfax will make a successful jump, and that's sad.
But as Karl Marx observed the great thing about capitalism is that it destroys the past and that's good because you can't get to the future by sticking with the past.
It's sad for the people on the sharp end of this Fairfax moment, but it's inevitable and that train has been coming down the tunnel for a long time now.