ABC News to bear brunt of job cuts as division refocusses on digital delivery

Kate Torney, ABC news director

Kate Torney, ABC news director

One in four of the proposed 400 ABC job cuts will come from the news division, with 100 positions set to go as part of the restructure of the national broadcaster.

However around 70 new positions will be created in a new digitally focused news team with an investment of $20m set to be put into developing breaking and rolling coverage online and on mobile devices, as the broadcaster looks to reach younger audiences.

Addressing staff this lunchtime director of news Kate Torney said there will also be changes to the way it runs foreign bureaux, with new ‘mega bureaus’ in Washington, Jakarta, Beijing and London. However the Auckland office will shut with New Zealand coverage coming from Australia, and the bureaux in Tokyo, Bangkok, New Delhi and Jerusalem will be “home based operations” led by a video journalist and producer based locally.

Countering claims this would lead to staff being left more vulnerable in dangerous areas have been rejected, with the broadcaster insisting there will be medical and security support provided “as required, as is the case now”. There will also be a newly created position of chief foreign correspondent.

Locally a new business team is being created to boost business coverage throughout the day, which will be posting cross-platform, with a new ten-minute “Business PM radio segment and re-launching The Business as two daily 15-minute programs on News 24″.

News bulletins on all stations would also be cut back to just five minutes, with the exception of 7am and 7.45am bulletins and those on Triple J, with a national service offered from 8pm when local news demand is at its lowest.

Journalists working in regional areas will also be transferred to the newly created Regional Division reporting to directors there, while News Radio is moving under the banner of the news division.

In the address Torney is understood to have told staff only 5 per cent of the broadcaster’s news budget goes to online, which would be boosted to eight per cent with the cash injection, but rejected the idea it was a “youth” strategy, billing it as a future strategy.

The future of the 730 report on Fridays is also still unclear, with the broadcaster leaving scope to experiment with different content, including one-off half hour TV specials, and extending the 7pm news bulletins.

It has also been confirmed the broadcaster will not be covering the Woman’s A-League football or WNBL competitions under cuts to sports broadcasting.



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