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News stalwart John Durie in latest News Corp editorial cull

Two senior journalists from The Australian, John Durie, the paper’s senior business commentator and specialist sports writer Courtney Walsh have been confirmed as casualties in the latest round of redundancies at News Corp Australia.

Mumbrella understands that the latest round saw ten senior editorial staff made redundant, in Melbourne and Sydney at the publication.

Durie told Mumbrella that he was sorry to be leaving The Australian and that “the timing was not mine”.

Durie has been a business reporter for 40 years, starting his career in the Canberra Press Gallery in 1980. He worked for 13 years as Chanticleer Columnist for The Australian Financial Review, 4 years as business columnist for the New York Post, and also worked in Paris. He won the 2013 News Business Journalist of the Year Award.

Walsh received the ATP Tour Ron Bookman Award for Media Excellence in 2019. He has also written for the Herald Sun, mX and various tennis magazines.

News Corp Australia made several round of redundancies throughout 2020, across regional and metro operations. The latest were in November, ahead of the company’s establishment of the Australian Business Network, a centralised business news desk.

The cuts to editorial come at a time when News Corp delivered its “most profitable” financial year, in its current form, with revenues rising 4% in the full year and up 30% in the fourth quarter. While profitability improved by 26% for the year, due to a record number of digital subscriptions.

During the financial year, News Corp signed multi-million dollar multi-years deals with digital platforms Facebook and Google. News Corp was a key advocate for the Australian Government’s introduction of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

News Corp Australia’s chair Michael Miller has called the legislation “landmark” and said prior to its implementation that the code “will benefit Australian consumers by helping sustain Australian news from Australian media companies”.

“It is vital for the future of trusted journalism in this country that the original timetable of putting the solution in place this year is met, he said to The Sydney Morning Herald.

A spokesperson for the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance said: “These cuts are particularly galling coming just weeks after the company’s recent record profit announcement.

“News Corp is receiving millions of dollars from Google and Facebook, and yet they are cutting more jobs at a time when the public’s appetite for news is greater than ever.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which is overseeing the code’s implementation and enforcement said of the cuts at News Corp: “Decisions about staffing are subject to a large number of commercial factors.”

News Corp declined to comment on the redundancies.

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