Trading Post’s paper demise was on the cards
After more than four decades of Australians buying cars, furniture and pets from its pages the Trading Post paper has been printed for the last time today. For years the Trading Post was something of an Australian institution, its status cemented in the 1997 film The Castle.
Telstra, which owns the paper, was faced with a huge drop in the number of people placing print advertisements and has now turned it into an exclusively online business. The founder of the original Trading Post says it is a sad day, but even he concedes that the rise of online classifieds has made it inevitable.
Charles Falkiner told ABC radio back in 2004 he was gobsmacked that Telstra had paid $636 million for the publication, saying he thought the price was a little high.
Today, he is philosophical about the death of the paper.
“It’s very sad of course, but having seen the Trading Post itself, it was out there about a month ago, it’s lost all its character I think and become just a big mass of advertisements,” he said.
“Quite frankly, it got away from the nice looking paper that we started and kept for so many years.
“The masts for instance had changed and the front page was always clean, wasn’t cluttered and it sort of looked to be a classy publication. But now, to me it’s lost it all.”
But he says the paper’s demise was probably on the cards.
“As Mr Murdoch said, the classifieds are going the way of all flesh, so to speak, and I think for the print editions, the writing’s on the wall,” he said.
“I’m sorry it’s gone … and I wish it luck in its online endeavours.”
The rise of online
Industry analysts such as Harold Mitchell had been predicting the paper’s demise for some time.
“The arrival of the digital age in 2000 meant that we’re going to move online … so any printed Trading Post was never going to last,” Mr Mitchell said.
Mr Mitchell says when Telstra paid more than $600 million for the Trading Post in 2004, it did not see the great structural change that was taking place.
“It wanted to get into this business which they thought would continue to grow. It was far too much, in fact – $1 probably would have been too much,” he said.
Online advertising makes up 16 per cent of the market place right now and Mr Mitchell says that is forecast to jump to 25 per cent within four years.
“Already in the UK it has reached that level and it will come from the other major media over a period of time as they’ve changed,” he said.
“This is the greatest structural change in advertising since the beginning, since television arrived in the early 60s which took advertising away from newspapers, magazines and radio.”