Fairfax to axe journos from AFR, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald according to reports

Fairfax_Media_logoFairfax Media’s management is understood to be a preparing for another major round of job cuts across The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review.

A piece in today’s Rear Window column in the Australian Financial Review said management were preparing for the cuts, but said “the precise size of the program is not yet final”.

Mumbrella understands that this latest rounds of staff cuts, which comes after the 1,900 job losses of 2012 and a further smaller round of job cuts at the metros in 2014, is likely to occur in the second half of 2015.

Rear Window columnist Joe Aston today exposed the long rumoured cuts, noting staff were already bracing for the job losses.

He wrote: “There’s a palpably sombre mood in the ranks of Fairfax Media’s editorial management as they prepare to implement yet another round of major cost-cutting in the news division that contains (what’s left of) The Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age…

“Cuts of that magnitude are a terrifying prospect for the three mastheads now running on the smell of a rag – no, the rag’s not even oily any more.”

Fairfax initially declined to comment they have since said they will always continue to look for efficiencies across the entire business* while comment is also being sought from the union representing journalists, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA).

In the strongly worded piece Aston takes aim at Fairfax and News Corp’s profitability, noting about his own employer: “Fairfax’s Australian business (excluding Domain and radio stations) reported earnings of $215 million (off revenue of $1.2 billion) in 2014 and so was still cash flow-positive after a $60 million capex bill. But that was mostly down to the performance of regional newspapers, not the three marquee mastheads.”

Cuts are also underway in newsrooms of regional Fairfax papers.

Source: SMI

Source: SMI

On News Corp he writes: “The numbers are no prettier at News Corp… Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspapers contributed earnings of $115 million in 2014 off revenues of $1.85 billion. But factoring in its capitalised costs of around $120 million, it is either a break-even or loss-making concern.”

Last week’s Audit Bureau of Circulation figures showed continuing declines in print sales across Fairfax and News Corp, with digital subscription growth continuing to stall. 

Fairfax even recorded declines in their digital subscription growth on The Age and SHM, a point they attributed to a seasonal drop off in education sales.

According to Standard Media Index, media agency spend across all newspapers has fallen from $1.3bn in 2007 to $783m in 2014.

Nic Christensen 

*Update 2.00pm: Fairfax has just issued the following statement saying: “There is no proposal, but we will always continue to look for efficiencies across the entire business.”


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