News Limited outsources copy subbing of community titles to Pagemasters

News Limited is to outsource the copy sub-editing of its regional newspapers to AAP’s Pagemasters, a move made by rival Fairfax more than a year ago.

The decision, announced just after 4pm this afternoon, will result in a number of job losses at the publisher. The changes will take affect by October.

In an internal memo obtained by Mumbrella, editorial director Campbell Reid, who outlined an array of changes to how News Limited’s newspapers will be produced, said that the changes would “reduce duplication and wasted effort” that is necessary “if we are to adapt to market conditions.”

The quality of sub-editing will be maintained by using a detailed service level agreement, Reid said.

Other changes mean that metro journalists will no longer write for individual mastheads, but produce content to be published ‘in any publication or platform’.

Reid’s memo to staff in full:

Dear Colleagues,

Today we announced significant changes to the way we manage our newsroom.  These changes are part of our business’ process of renewal to ensure we best position ourselves to meet the needs of consumers.

These changes are about unlocking the power of our network and ensuring we provide the best local and national editorial content across all the devices and formats that our consumers love.  The changes will also reduce duplication and wasted effort, driving efficiencies that are essential if we are to adapt to market conditions.

The changes that will impact the Newsroom teams mean:

  • Reporting and photography teams will be rostered across seven days and produce content that is available for all mastheads;
  • Metro team members will no longer be dedicated to individual mastheads, but rather be responsible for developing great content that may publish in any publication or platform;
  • The introduction of a new Superdesk, replacing the traditional backbench model; and
  • State based editorial teams will be supported by the network rounds and production resources, ensuring the city teams can focus on gathering and developing great local content.

The changes that will impact the Real Estate team mean:

  • One seven day Real Estate team will be established in each State to improve the spread and depth of coverage and our relationship with the market;
  • Real Estate staff will report to Network Real Estate Editor, Kylie Davis; and
  • More long term data-driven coverage; including stronger analysis and trend identification.

The changes that will impact the NewsCentral team mean:

  • The word sub-editing tasks for most of our Community newspapers in NSW, VIC, QLD and SA will be moved to Pagemasters Australia from the end of October;
  • The number of positions within NewsCentral will be reduced in line with the reduced workload;
  • Pagemasters will sub to our specifications and we will protect the quality of sub-editing via a detailed service level agreement.
  • As part of preparing the business for the transition to Methode, we are reducing our reliance on Adobe InDesign for page design.  There will be a reduced workload for artists who work on page design using Adobe InDesign as a result.

We will see a reduction in the number of positions as a result of these changes.   We will seek to achieve this reduction through a combination of attrition, redeployment and redundancy, using a fair and equitable process regarding selection for redundancy.  We will work with employee preferences wherever possible.

I want to emphasise that the reduction of roles within our business is not a reflection on the dedication or quality of our teams.  Rather, it reflects an opportunity to improve our company’s operating efficiency.  Those who leave our business will be treated with respect, and will be provided with professional outplacement support to assist in their career transition.

We have already commenced consulting with employees to discuss the impact of these changes and we will ensure there is ample opportunity to discuss relevant issues.

Over the next eight weeks we will make this transition to the new way of working with the Superdesk, Newsroom and NewsCentral being completely functional by 29 October 2012.

If you have any questions please talk with your Manager directly, or you can send an email

I thank everyone for their continued commitment shown in working as part of our team.

Campbell Reid

In May last year, Fairfax Media announced that the news, business and sports pages in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Canberra Times were to be sub-edited by Pagemasters as part of an outsourcing deal.



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