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Canberra Times goes compact; Fairfax Media to cut 12 full-time editorial positions across ACT

The Canberra TimesFairfax Media is set to restructure The Canberra Times, moving the print paper to a compact format and ditching the broadsheet style, as well as cutting 12 full-time editorial positions across the ACT.

The redesigned compact weekday, Saturday and Sunday Canberra Tunes will be introduced in the second half of 2016 and will be the same size as the Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Fairfax Media ditched the broadsheet format for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in early 2013.

The changes were announced to staff today, with a proposal to call for voluntary redundancies of about 12 full-time equivalent positions, mostly from editorial. Fairfax’s Federal Parliamentary bureau in Canberra is not affected.

The job cuts follow on from Fairfax Media announcing its plans to cut 120-full time jobs from its Sydney and Melbourne newsrooms earlier this month. The proposed job cuts at The Canberra Times is separate as the masthead is part of Canberra Times Australian Community Media (ACM) division.

“The new size is easier to handle and navigate than the present broadsheet,” said Canberra-based ACM editorial director, Rod Quinn – a former editor-in-chief of The Canberra Times – in a statement.

“The Canberra Times is changing to a more convenient shape but it will continue to deliver the same quality, independent journalism and agenda-setting local news coverage that has earned the respect and trust of Canberra readers for 90 years.”

The proposed changes are part of Fairfax Media’s transformation of Australian Community Media which saw the company slash jobs across regional and rural titles at the end of last year, including the Newcastle Herald.

Staff across ACM’s publishing operations in Goulburn, Bowral, Queanbeyan, Yass, Crookwell and Braidwood have also been briefed on a separate proposal which will see those mastheads move to a digital-first publishing system.

Under the plan the Queanbeyan Age would be merged with the Queanbeyan edition of The Chronicle and relaunched as a new-look, free weekly newspaper, and the Cooma-Monaro Express and the Summit Sun at Jindabyne would no longer be published.

Director of ACM, John Angilley, said: “We are committed to providing local coverage for Canberra readers by embracing change to ensure The Canberra Times remains the most trusted source of news and information in the community.

“By modernising our newsrooms and better focusing our resources we are strengthening The Canberra Times, which this year celebrates its 90th year delivering quality local journalism to the local community.

“Our full focus and attention in the weeks ahead is on consulting with our staff to ensure everybody fully understands the proposal and has the opportunity to share their feedback with us,” Angilley said.

The union for journalists the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has confirmed 12.6 full-time equivalent positions, including 10 editorial, are proposed to be cut.

“The union condemns the scale of these cuts, which represent one in six members of the editorial workforce at the Canberra Times, one of the last remaining Australian broadsheets,” said Katelin McInerney, MEAA director – Media.

“When iconic and historic mastheads like the Canberra Times lose reporters and photographers there is a direct loss of local news reporting because there are fewer staff on the ground involved in newsgathering and the vital role of scrutinising the powerful and holding them to account,”

“Canberra Times editorial staff have been at the forefront of quality, investigative journalism both in their region and nationally and these cuts will hurt their ability to deliver the same quality coverage for their readership.

“We call on Fairfax to look beyond short-term savings gains and invest in quality journalism and the journalists who produce it.”

Staff are currently being consulted on the changes.

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Miranda Ward

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