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10 Daily’s closure is ‘not a reaction’ to COVID-19, Ten tells ‘blindsided’ staff

Yesterday, just four days after celebrating the site’s second birthday, the 10 Daily team was called into a meeting to be told the masthead was closing, and many of them would be out of jobs by the end of the week.

As the meeting was wrapping up, Ten boss Beverley McGarvey sent an email telling staff the decision was “not a response” to COVID-19, but rather part of a broader strategy, while acknowledging that “some staff will leave” the business.

“The recent impact of COVID-19 on the media industry has reinforced the need to continue to align our business with our evolving customer needs and global business model, but I want to stress that the changes are part of our broader strategy, not a reaction to recent events,” McGarvey said in the email seen by Mumbrella.

The 10 Daily team celebrating the site’s first birthday last year. It reached its second birthday just last week

On the associated redundancies, McGarvey wrote: “To those staff, let me express my sincere thanks for all your hard work, dedication and professionalism during your time here.

“We will fully support you during this period and I wish you the very best for the future.”

A Ten spokesperson told Mumbrella the changes will have a “minimal” impact on the sales team specifically, but would not comment on the total number of redundancies.

“Less than 10 [sales] employees have been affected, or less than 5% of the total [sales] team. Separate to these changes, we are currently looking to expand the team’s capabilities,” the spokesperson said.

Employees mostly attended yesterday’s meeting in person, but with less than two hours’ notice, some didn’t have time to commute to Ten’s Pyrmont offices, according to sources. Multiple 10 Daily staffers told Mumbrella they were “blindsided” by the decision.

McGarvey’s email did not directly address the 10 Daily closure, instead referring only to a “range of transformative measures across Network 10 and ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand”.

As part of that transformation, the ViacomCBS and Ten integration that began with the sales teams merging in May will extend across the entire “combined organisation”, McGarvey said. Ten would not elaborate on the details of the “transformative measures”.

Last week, 10 Daily turned two. Managing news editor Sandra Sully marked the occasion by tweeting: “Onwards and upwards team … but let’s spare a thought for our friends [at Buzzfeed]”, which on the same day announced its local editorial team would cease to exist from this week.

McGarvey added that the changes are the “next step in integrating our business and establishing a truly combined company” following March’s announcement that CEO Paul Anderson would step down (just two months after his remit was expanded). Rather than directly replacing the role, the new executive structure saw McGarvey promoted to chief content officer and executive vice president across the combined operations.

“The union of Network 10 and ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand creates a business with unparalleled access to global and local content, networks and commercial partnerships,” McGarvey continued in the email.

“But, as you all know, our industry faces both short-term and long-term challenges and opportunities. The changes being announced today will position us to manage those challenges and maximise those opportunities.

“We must take steps to ensure our business is structured to compete and win, and that we have a strong, innovative and sustainable company that can thrive in a rapidly evolving market.”

10 Daily senior journalist Josh Butler broke the news of the site’s closure on Twitter, which will see some content transferred to broadcast video on demand platform, 10 Play, and the network’s social media brands.

More than 30 staff work for 10 Daily, including Butler, managing editor Mel Cornford, editor Chris Harrison, opinion editor Nick Bhasin, journalists Antoinette Lattouf and Mat Whitehead, and video journalists Nick Wray and Wade Shipard. While Ten said in a statement yesterday that some roles will remain, many will be made redundant.

The site is the latest casualty of the media landscape in recent months, with COVID-19 ripping away advertising revenue from publishers, causing many to turn to redundancies, stand downs and pay cuts, despite record readership figures. Notably, almost 250 staff have lost their jobs or been stood down at Bauer since the German-based company took control of Pacific Magazines. And a total of 290 jobs have been made redundant at Foxtel, with a further 140 team members stood down.

News Corp, Nine and Australian Community Media have suspended some print products – News Corp’s Michael Miller has admitted he doesn’t know whether some of the company’s community titles will ever return – while multiple regional newsrooms have shuttered, in addition to Buzzfeed’s local news team.

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