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News Corp reveals drastic restructure including most photographers being made redundant

News Corp Australia is to slash jobs across its editorial operations in a move which will see most photographers made redundant and a drastic reduction in sub-editing staff.

 

In a statement, Campbell Reid, News Corp’s director of editorial management, said: “These changes are necessary to achieve the balance of resourcing between content creation, content production and digital excellence.

“Like every other business today, we have to identify opportunities to improve and modernise the way we work to become more efficient. We need to organise our editorial operations so we can preserve in print and excel in digital. This requires a new approach to longstanding newsroom processes.

“Our core franchise is journalism and we will always protect and preserve that. These changes do not diminish our commitment to quality nor our faith in the long-term future of all our publishing platforms.

“At a time when trusted, credible news content is paramount, we must ensure our contemporary newsrooms are shaped to deliver the news, analysis, features and services that match modern reader needs, whether in print, digital, on mobile, or in video or audio.”

For News Corp, which publishes the likes of The Daily Telegraph, The Australian, the Herald Sun and the Courier Mail , the announced redundancies come after the publishing company revealed at the end of last year it would be seeking to make $40m in cuts.

The plans to “modernise” its editorial operations also follow on from Fairfax Media’s announcement last week that it would be restructuring its metro editorial team.

News Corp’s attempts to “streamline” its editorial operations will include moving from an in-house photographic model to using a mixture of  staff specialists, plus freelance and agency content.

News Corp’s  Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney operations will each lose more than a dozen photographers in savings likely to amount to $10m on their own.

The company will also implement changes to its print production processes which will simplify in-house production and “maximise the use of available print technology for print edition production”.

In practice the move will see most journalists writing their own headlines and standfirsts.

According to the statement, the impact of these changes “will result in a number of redundancies” nationally.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance has condemned the cuts which it says will see in some cities, up to two-thirds of photographic staff axed.

MEAA’s Media section director Katelin McInerney said in a statement: “The job redundancies that will result which will only serve to strip vital editorial talent from the company’s mastheads, harm the very products that News Corp’s audiences value and end up being self-defeating because of the damage they do.

“These are mastheads that pride themselves on being newspapers of the people and a voice for the communities they serve – these cuts serve no-one.

“News Corp readers and the communities that these journalists deserve better. Once again it is front line editorial staff in already stretched newsrooms – the very people audiences rely on to tell their stories – who are bearing the brunt of these short-sighted cuts for short-term shareholder gains,” McInerney said.

“Time and time again we have seen that cuts to front line media staff ultimately do not deliver the kinds of savings for media companies that get them out of the woods.

“Cutting the very staff who tell the stories of our society’s marginalised and vulnerable – particularly those photojournalists who create the images we, as audiences, rely on to cut to the heart of an issue in a powerful, compelling and instantaneous way – has proved an ultimately futile stop-gap measure for news companies.”

According to the union, staff have been told redundant photographers will be able to freelance back for News Corp as well as able to provide content as freelancers via photographic contractors Getty and AAP.

MEAA said News Corp management also flagged significant changes to work practices with earlier deadlines, greater copy sharing across cities and mastheads, and journalists taking up more responsibility for production elements and proofing their own work, “which has journalists concerned about already stretched news gathering resources and maintaining the editorial standards of their mastheads”.

Last week journalists at The Australian were told the publication would streamline its production process with reporters told they would have to write headlines, standfirsts and SEO friendly headlines, as well as adding their own images to stories.

The memo said the move was aimed at streamlining the production of The Australian on digital platforms.

Dear all
We are proposing some changes to workflow in an effort to make better use of the Methode system and streamline our work on our digital platforms.
To this end, we are proposing that all reporters and section heads be offered training to update and broaden their digital skills.
For example, we need all staff to write in Methode at all times, except when filing remotely.
We also have to improve our workflow to ensure we meet deadlines.
Our print deadlines will be tightened in the weeks ahead and we must make every effort to clear all sections by the  designated time.
Correct use of Methode will help us meet these deadlines as well as integrate our work with our digital platforms.
As part of the proposed changes, we will be asking reporters to become as adept in digital as they are in print.
Reporters will eventually write digital headlines, SEO headlines and standfirsts. They will  be taught how to add images and to use digital templates.
We are also proposing training to allow section heads to use Methode in the way it was intended when introduced four years ago.
Section heads will in future manage the production of their sections for both print and digital. We will train them to use page templates, assign stories and complete the digital build.
This training is designed to improve the skills of all reporters and section heads to ensure that they know how to work in an integrated news room.
Most training will be in one-on-one sessions at your desk and we will advise you of proposed timing.
If you have any questions about the training or the changes to workflow, please talk to XXXXXX or XXXXXXX.
We will carefully consider any issues or concerns you may have, prior to implementing any changes.
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