Sydney Morning Herald editor working on plan to bring production back in-house

The Sydney Morning Herald may take its sub-editing back inhouse, editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir has revealed, saying it is always possible to reverse a “dumb idea”.

Goodsir, second from left, speaking at the SMH readers event

Goodsir, second from left, speaking at the SMH readers event

Goodsir told an audience of SMH subscribers that he was contemplating bringing production into Sydney after it was outsourced to New Zealand, initially to AAP’s Pagemasters and later to a Fairfax subbing hub.

His comments came on the same day that the New Zealand Herald, owned by NZME, revealed that it will end its contract with Pagemasters and once again “insource” its sub-editing.

The original move saw Fairfax save millions of dollars as it made long-serving sub editing staff redundant and shifted sub editing and production offshore. The role of sub-editors includes checking the content of articles written by reporters for accuracy and style, writing headlines and fitting articles onto newspaper pages.

The move by Fairfax led to public criticisms of production errors including old pages or articles being republished. Last year Fairfax’s Australian Financial Review apologised after a production error led to the publication of the headline”World is fukt”.



Asked by a member of the audience about the issue, Goodsir said: “Some of the decisions that we’ve taken have been fantastic and some have been less than optimal, but all against the backdrop of witheringly fast change… and against the backdrop of a commercial environment which is, to say the least, tough.

“We have taken the decision about 18 months ago to have some of our production done in New Zealand. I’m monitoring that closely – it’s had mixed results, to say the least, and the quality of our journalism is something I care deeply about because it is critical to retaining our loyal readers and subscribers.

“I note today that the New Zealand Herald which also outsourced its production and sub editing, has done what I am working on, which is this novel concept called insourcing, which is actually bringing back the production into the newsroom.

“That is now much more able to be done because of changes in technology and a lot of the systems we’re working with, that marry what were once disparate platforms – print and digital – into one seamless piece of journalism.

“We care deeply about it. Watch this space.”

Later in the evening, Goodsir added: “There’s no decision we take that we can’t reverse or we can’t say ‘that’s a dumb idea, let’s pull out of it.”

The issue of reducing production costs is widespread within the publishing industry. News Corp has centralised or outsourced much of its newspapers’ subbing to Pagemasters, while Mamamia has been advertising for subeditors in Bangladesh.

Tim Burrowes


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