Up to 500 journalists made redundant in 2013

MEAA reportThe union representing journalists has said a vast amount of experience has been lost from newsrooms, with an estimated 500 jobs cut last year by publishers.

In its annual report into the State of Press Freedom in Australia the MEAA says print publishers were responsible for the majority of redundancies as they “continue to struggle in the wake of the enormous changes taking place due to the digital transformation.”

According to the report News Corp Australia shed around 65 reporting staff, while Fairfax Media cut 50 from the metro dailies, plus another 13 full-time from the financial and business reporting group.

There were also about 75 redundancies at AAP  with 50 coming from subediting hub Pagemasters as a result of the “offshoring” of Fairfax sub-editing to New Zealand, while a further 25 came from AAP newsrooms.

The union also notes there were a number of redundancies at Bauer magazines, which came about as a result of title closures and the relocation of the motoring division to Melbourne, while APN also cut around 20 positions.

MEAA is also working with researchers from various universities on the “New Beats” project which has been put together to examine the impact of the jobs cuts on Australian journalism and related industries.

Latrobe University, the University of Canberra, University of Sydney and Swinburne University of Technology are all involved in the project which is tracking the paths of journalists who have been made redundant.

The report states: “Early results of the study suggest the media industry has lost a wealth of experience, skills and wisdom due to the wave of redundancies. While our study includes journalists from all media platforms, it came as no surprise that 94 per cent of our respondents had left print jobs, and most 90 per cent of those took a voluntary redundancy package.

“What the survey dramatically showed, however, is how much journalistic experience has been walking out the door: the average age of the cohort is 49; more than half have departed from senior roles; and they have spent an average of just over 25 years working as journalists.

“The exodus of such a large number of experienced journalists shows that this issue matters to non-journalists as much as it does to those in the industry. With so many experienced journalists leaving, what sort of media is left for us as readers and audiences?”

Nic Christensen 


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