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70 jobs in the air after Fairfax proposes moving NZ sub-editing hubs back to Pagemasters

Fairfax Media is set to shed potentially another 70 jobs, as it looks to move production of its metro newspapers back to Pagemasters, less than two years after moving production to its New Zealand hub to save costs.

The proposal, announced by editorial director Sean Aylmer today, means sub-editing and layout of pages for papers including the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will be split between Pagemasters in Australia and New Zealand.

Fairfax has come in for criticism over slipping standards of sub-editing in its papers since it moved production offshore, with Media Watch skewering it for continually duplicating the same story on different pages of the same papers.

However, it does not appear the changes have been driven by those mistakes, with Aylmer writing in a note to staff the new arrangements “are based on a variable pricing model – a story and page rate – providing us additional flexibility and savings”.

It is understood that more than 70 full-time positions may be impacted should the proposal go ahead, with Aylmer emphasising in his email that consultation with Fairfax Editorial Services would start today.

He added: “Our colleagues in NZ have worked collaboratively with the teams here since 2012 to help produce our newspapers and websites and support the transition of our newsrooms. We are confident that Pagemasters here and in New Zealand will continue to support our quality journalism and newsrooms as they take shape for the future.”

Fairfax moved production of the papers to New Zealand in May 2014, a move which saw around 40 jobs moved offshore from Australia.

Pagemasters already handles a large amount of production work for News Corp and Bauer Media.

Alex Hayes 

The email from Fairfax editorial director, Sean Aylmer:

I wanted to share with you our plans to transition Metro production work, currently performed by Fairfax Editorial Services in New Zealand, to Pagemasters – operating from both NZ and Australia. The proposed new arrangements are based on a variable pricing model – a story and page rate – providing us additional flexibility and savings.

Under the plan, editorial production of TV listings would continue to be performed by a Fairfax team in Wellington.

Our colleagues in NZ have worked collaboratively with the teams here since 2012 to help produce our newspapers and websites and support the transition of our newsrooms. We are confident that Pagemasters here and in New Zealand will continue to support our quality journalism and newsrooms as they take shape for the future.

Consultation with Fairfax Editorial Services commenced today.

In the coming weeks we expect to be in a position to share further details about the transition to the new external editorial production team, including any workflow changes.

Thanks,

Sean

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