Fairfax to cut more than a third of journalists in overhaul of Community Media business

Fairfax_Media_logo1-234x145Fairfax Media is cutting more than a third of its editorial staff in its Australian Community Media (ACM) business and axing a masthead as it looks to make sweeping changes to the business.

This morning staff were told 37 of the 95 full time equivalent editorial positions are going, with agricultural masthead The Land facing eight of those cuts once group roles are taken into account, with its editorial team to be relocated from western Sydney to central west NSW.

“These cuts are pretty devastating,” Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) CEO Paul Murphy told Mumbrella. “We are expecting some further detailed information from the company today and we will be having discussions with them in the coming days.”

Fairfax is almost halfway through an 18-month overhaul of its ACM business which will see new technology and training introduced for editorial and sales staff.

The changes will see the company introduce a new digital-first publishing system, new equipment and skills for journalists and sales staff, new ways of working and refreshed designs for the newspapers.

Titles which will be impacted are: The St George & Sutherland Shire Leader; the Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser; Blue Mountains Gazette; Penrith City Gazette; Hawkesbury Gazette; Hawkesbury Courier; Hills News, Rouse Hill Courier; Liverpool City Champion; Fairfield City Champion; Parramatta-Holroyd Sun; Blacktown Sun; St Marys-Mt Druitt Star; Camden-Narellan Advertiser; Wollondilly Advertiser and South West Advertiser.

“Right across ACM, we are investing to secure the future of local news by building a stronger, sustainable and modern media network to serve our suburban, regional and rural communities,” director of ACM John Angilley said according to a report in the St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.

“Our journalists and our sales teams will work with new skills, capabilities and resources so they can continue to do what they do best – create quality journalism and connect advertisers to our audience. Our mastheads must embrace change to ensure they remain the most trusted source of news and information for years to come in the communities we serve.”

Under the proposal, the St George & Sutherland Shire Leader will be published once a week rather than twice a week and the free weekly South West Advertiser will be discontinued.

“There’s no lessening in Fairfax’s commitment to providing coverage of our local communities. We are better focusing our resources and strengthening our newspapers and websites for the future,” Angilley said.

The proposal will see agricultural masthead The Land editorial team shifted from North Richmond to Orange in Central Western NSW. The title already has journalists located at Dubbo, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga and the North Coast and will retain key reporters in Sydney.

Around 12.5-full time positions on the title will be slashed, with editorial staff numbers to reduced by about eight once new group roles are taken into account.

Business manager of ACM’s Sydney operating group Sally White, previously editor of The Land, will oversee the restructure.

“Our full focus and attention in the weeks ahead is consulting with our staff to ensure everyone fully understands the proposal and has the opportunity to give feedback,” Angilley said. “No final decisions have been made.”

The restructure follows on from 47 full-time jobs being cut from Fairfax’s Illawarra and South Coast newspapers at the end of last month and a restructure for the company’s regional titles in Victoria in March.

Miranda Ward and Nic Christensen


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