Fairfax Media set to outsource copy subbing

Fairfax Media is set to outsource most of its copy subbing to AAP’s Pagemasters in a move which will see radical changes to the way the company produces its newspapers.

The changes will include news, business and sports pages in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Canberra Times. Although the company has not said how many jobs will be affected, it is likely to impact a large number of sub editors, many of whom will have been with the company for many years.

CEO Greg Hywood said that the company planned to spend about $25m on redundancy pay offs although this may also include printing staff as it seeks efficiencies in that area too.  

However, the move will be accompanied by an increased investment in reporters and writers, the company said.

Meanwhile, shares in Fairfax Media slumped heavily as the company warned that revenues for the second half of the financial year have dropped by 4.5% compared to the year before. The company said that the decline in advertising had “slightly abated” over the last month.

In a memo to staff – obtained by Mumbrella – Hywood said that the company would still be investing in journalism. He said:

“We will immediately look to recruit a number of high-quality reporters and writers. We will expand our trainee programs. We will invest in comprehensive multi-media training and equipment.

“This investment of millions of dollars will dramatically enhance our ability to deliver journalism that attracts and grows audiences in our target markets.

“To achieve this we are restructuring the way we produce our newspapers. New workflow and work practices will be introduced which will not only facilitate the investment in journalism, but will underpin quality.

“Under this restructure it is planned that copy sub-editing of news, business and sport will be outsourced to AAP through its subsidiary Pagemasters. As you will be aware, Pagemasters has been successfully producing many of the sections for our metro mastheads for the past three years.”

The company is also ending its wire service  subscription to the NZ Press Association, instead creating the Fairfax NZ News Service.

Pagemasters’ parent company AAP is mainly owned by Fairfax and News Ltd.

It is unclear how the subbing cuts will affect fairfax’s regional titles, although Hywood flagged “the fast tracking of the Regional online editorial media hub initiatives”.

At the time of writing, shares in Fairfax had fallen from $1.30 to just below $1.20.

  • Hywood’s memo to staff in full

  • Comments

    1. Surly
      3 May 11
      2:37 pm

    2. We’ve just fought – and won – this same fight at The Mercury in Hobart, Good luck to our Fairfax colleagues with their campaign. There are plenty of reasons this is a bad idea which will damage the Fairfax brand. The board will need to be told long and loud before they change their minds.

    3. Ashley
      3 May 11
      3:40 pm

    4. I bought Fairfax shares in 1992 when they first floated at the staff discount of $1.10 per share. 19 years later they have come back to $1.20. Hmmm!!!

    5. dougfromparkdale
      3 May 11
      3:42 pm

    6. Fairfax metro mastheads don’t have “hundreds” of sub editors. That reference came from the news.com.au website.

      Looks like Mumbrella needs some quality subs of its own …

    7. mumbrella
      3 May 11
      3:47 pm

    8. Hi Doug,

      My source for that is the statement from the Media Alliance.


      Tim – Mumbrella

    9. dougfromparkdale
      3 May 11
      4:42 pm

    10. Hi Tim,

      The MEAA statement talked about hudreds of <jobs at Fairfax — these cuts go well beyond the sub editors’ ranks.

      I say again: there are not “hundreds” of sub editors at the SMH or The Age — or the two of them put together.

    11. Steve C
      3 May 11
      6:09 pm

    12. Maybe the Age online will not have as many typos, grammatical errors or just plain bad writing now. Sometimes I think they have work experience kids for subbies.

    13. SW
      3 May 11
      9:09 pm

    14. Steve C: they will have more mistakes under this plan. get ready for them.

    15. Frank Black
      4 May 11
      12:30 pm

    16. “Fairfax Media set to outsource everything”

      might as well.

    17. Anthony Gill
      5 May 11
      3:23 pm

    18. It’s like The Wire, season 5!