Master of his Domain: Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood.

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood has hit out at rival News Corp. Photo: Rob Homer

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood has launched a stinging attack against rival News Corporation, accusing its publications and senior management of "indulging in a series of speculative lies about Fairfax".

In a robust email to staff at Fairfax, owner of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, Mr Hywood launched his most vigorous defence to date of Fairfax's performance.

He said of News Corp: "The time has come to explode some of their self-serving myths".

News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch accused rivals of "talking down" newspapers at the Mumbrella 360 marketing and media conference in Sydney last week.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at Fairfax, Mr Murdoch said it was "just crazy and a lack of leadership that frankly is irresponsible and it's got to stop."

Mr Hywood said News Corp's claims that Fairfax was walking away from print, talking down print and even at fault for falling newspaper advertising revenue in Australia were "so ridiculous it is barely worth taking the effort to deny it."

News Corp reports that Fairfax would stop print editions of its metro and regional mastheads by the end of the year were "utter garbage", he said.

He insisted there would still be a "sustainable role" for printed editions of Fairfax mastheads but stressed that the company was managing structural decline in print.

The decline looked likely to continue, he said, based on the more advanced US and UK markets, which were not protected by Australia's "relative post GFC buoyancy".

Mr Hywood accused News Corp of being "in denial" about structural change while noting in an annotated graph that Fairfax's share price had risen 87 per cent since late June 2013, versus 27 per cent for the demerged News Corp, and had outperformed News by 50 per cent in the past six months.

Fairfax had doubled the profitability of its metropolitan titles through efficiencies and new digital subscriptions, he said.

But "necessary changes" instigated by the previous News Corp Australia chief executive Kim Williams had "ground to a halt as the old guard saw him off," Mr Hywood added, accusing the organisation of being "at war with itself over its future."

He also accused News Corp of "deep seated cultural problems" as exemplified by the phone hacking scandal at its now defunct UK tabloid The News of The World.

"News' mad ranting and ravings of late are just their standard tactics of bludgeoning anyone who dares to have a different voice – indeed dares to challenge their view and place in the world," he said.

Mr Hywood signed off by predicting that his email will trigger "more gnashing of teeth and theatrics from Holt Street" – News Corp's Surry Hills headquarters in Sydney.