Sunday, 23 April 2017

Out of the frying pan and into the fire for NSW & Qld regional newspapers?

In June 2016 when APN News & Media announced that it was selling its faltering Australian regional newspaper operations to News Corp, staffing levels at APN east coast regional newspapers had long ago been pared to the bone.

Now News Corp is also embarking on yet another round of staff reductions and work practice changes across its mastheads.

The Guardian, 11 April 2017:

Rupert Murdoch’s Australian tabloids are making the majority of their photographers and subeditors redundant in a radical cost-cutting move designed to keep the ailing newspaper business afloat.

The director of editorial management, Campbell Reid, said the restructure of the traditional newsroom was needed to “preserve in print and excel in digital”.

The Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun and the Courier-Mail are set to lose dozens of staff each – the Queensland masthead alone will cut 45 – although the company is not revealing the total number of job losses.

The announcement follows a cost-cutting drive in December which saw 42 journalists, artists and photographers made redundant in a bid to slash $40m from News Corp.

Last week the Gold Coast Bulletin was told it had to lose 10 jobs, and sources said dozens of people had been quietly made redundant already this year across all the mastheads.

News Corp said the old model of staff photographers would be retired for a “hybrid model, consisting of a core team of photographic specialists, complemented by freelance and agency talent”.

At a meeting at Sydney’s Holt Street headquarters, the Daily Telegraph editor, Chris Dore, told staff the photographers would lose their permanent status but may be hired back as casuals and freelancers.

Staff at the Herald Sun were told News Corp “is in a fight for its life”.

There was no mention at the meeting of the company’s financial losses which are behind the move. In February News Corp posted a second-quarter loss of $287m and cited impairments in the Australian newspaper business as a key factor. The Australian editors were summoned to the US for a meeting about making substantial cuts to operations.

News described the changes as a modernisation of the newsroom which would “simplify in-house production and maximise the use of available print technology for print edition production”.

“Like every other business today, we have to identify opportunities to improve and modernise the way we work to become more efficient,” Reid said.

According to Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, 11 April 2017:

Management also flagged significant changes to work practices with earlier deadlines, greater copy sharing across cities and mastheads, and journalists taking up more responsibility for production elements and proofing their own work, which has journalists concerned about already stretched news gathering resources and maintaining the editorial standards of their mastheads.

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