Two memos from The Age:

During the past few months we have been dealing with some formidable challenges, sad losses, and substantial structural change. And, after a long period of growth, the economic prospects have taken a sharp turn for the worse.

As it has done for more than 150 years, The Age has stayed on course. Ironically, in difficult times, our readers look to us more than ever.

In terms of journalism, The Age continues to be excellent. With what is still one of the largest and most experienced news teams in Australia, we excel at providing in-depth analysis of the issues and events that affect people. The Age is still a source of information that people can trust.

In terms of structural change, we have done and are still doing what must be done to maximise the use of new technology, become an integrated media company, and position the paper for the future.

And in commercial terms, we are thinking and working differently to maintain our connection with our traditional customers, and to build new revenue streams. We are facing some advertising challenges in an adverse market which is changing very quickly, almost by the day.

However, projects such as the re-launch of the Green Guide and the development of our integrated sales team for Domain are particularly good examples of how we are doing things differently in response to changing commercial and media environments.

All this makes for interesting and sometimes difficult times, and I realise that not all changes are welcomed. But we must make them, including occasionally the reduction of services, if we are to retain the strength of our core business — a strong editorial team and a strong sales team.

The transformation at The Age echoes what is going on across Fairfax Media. More and more, we are becoming a multimedia organisation that is quick on its feet, versatile, responsive and imaginative.

We’ve changed a few rules. We won’t necessarily be bound by the same old processes any more. And we’re inventing new ways of doing things. Importantly, we are actively seeking to recognise and accelerate high achievers.

As we come to the end of the year, I want to thank you for helping to keep our business on track and focused.

Tomorrow, David Kirk, Fairfax Media CEO, is in Melbourne and he is available to talk informally about the company’s position and the future. Three briefing sessions will be held on the fifth, fourth and third floors. These are not department specific, so please try to get to one of them.

The meetings are listed below:

Level 4: 12.30 – 1.20pm
Level 5: 1.30 – 2.20pm
Level 3: 2:30 – 3:20pm

Don Churchill
Chief Executive and Publisher

And this one:

New Switchboard Operations

From November 29 the following hours for switchboard staff will apply:

Monday — Friday 8.30am — 9.00pm

Victorian public holidays 10.00am — 6.30pm

National public holidays No Staff

Saturday and Sunday No Staff

Procedures for editorial staff:

  1. At any time inbound callers may direct dial an extension using the prefix 9601 followed by the extension number.
  2. At any time inbound callers can ring the switchboard number 9600 4211 and they will be offered a menu including “Press 1 if you have a news tip”. This will direct them to the newsdesk.
  3. If the newsdesk staff are unable to take the call it will then go to an answering service that will be monitored regularly by news desk staff. Callers will also be advised of the email [email protected]. This email will be directed to online and the newsdesk.
  4. During manned hours callers will have the option to be assisted by an operator.
  5. If you ring in during or after hours and wish to go directly to the newsdesk you can press 8. This will not be on the public message and is for staff only to access the newsdesk quickly without having to go through the process of recorded options.
  6. If you require the phone number of a staff member you should refer to the Intranet Staff Directory. If you do not know their name you can also search under the Department.
  7. A register of home numbers will accessible to restricted staff members on a password protected directory. No home numbers will be given to anyone. Connection to home numbers can be directed to newsroom assistants.
  8. Newsdesk assistants will assist with connection to numbers when staff are phoning from outside The Age and cannot access the Intranet.
  9. All overseas bureaus and correspondents mobiles have been allocated a local number – see key numbers list. That means they can be dialled directly from any Age phone and if outside the building as a local call without ISD codes.
  10. If your personal desk phone rings more than five times it will divert to your answering service. You can access this internally by dialling ext 2772 or externally 9601 2772 and follow the prompts.
  11. If a phone is ringing near you and you wish to answer it press *7
  12. An updated Speed dial register with numbers relevant to editorial will be available on the intranet. You may wish to make a list of your most regularly used numbers and tape it to your monitor.
  13. You should ensure your contact details displayed on the Intranet Staff Directory are correct and updated with any changes. This can be done clicking on Directory (top of the Staff Intranet home page) and following the Update Details prompt.
  14. You can take this opportunity to update your voicemail message and include your mobile if you wish. (Instructions are on the Intranet – go to Departments/ Information Technology and click on Phones tab bar at the top of the page and follow instructions.)
  15. You should store numbers in your mobile and Outlook contacts and regularly update them.
  16. Use your “out of office” feature on your email and phone when on leave or away for extended periods

Associated press feels the pinch of the bad economy. Newspapers, magazines, TV networks, and now, even the Associated Press is feeling the tight pinch of the recession and advertising stall. Long considered by reporters as a safe haven from the economic seesaw of local markets, the AP has cut the price it charges newspapers by $30 million. But that might not be enough for some. Scripps Howard, which has 17 newspapers and a Washington bureau, is in money talks with AP. “We are a member in good standing of the AP as of today,” says spokesman Tim King. “I can’t tell you what the future holds for the relationship because we are continuing our discussions with them concerning pricing.” — Washington Whispers

‘Piracy’ reporters kidnapped in Somalia. Two western journalists were abducted on Somalia’s northern coast today where they had been reporting on the rampant piracy in the region. They were kidnapped en route to the airport in the port city of Bosasso, where several foreigners have been taken hostage over the past year. There is as yet no news on their whereabouts. — The Guardian

Worldwide editions of Time to consolidate. We’ve been hearing about the Time Europe layoffs for a couple of weeks now — they are part of the larger bloodbath going on at Time Inc. that’s being overseen by MPA lifetime achievement recipient Ann Moore. Today Keith Kelly is reporting that they were part of a larger (previously rumored) plan to consolidate the international editions of Time so that they will be primarily edited out of New York. — FishbowlNY

Lego brightens the boring old fashion show. Your average fashion show is fascinating in content but boring in delivery. The same lighting, the same models, the same electronically mixed music pounding down on the runway. The idea is to focus on the clothes, but if that’s true, why bother sticking them on hot, skinny chicks to begin with? Some designers break away by covering their models’ faces or hiring unconventional models. But designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac shatters the paradigm by displaying his new spring/summer 2009 collection in an animated Lego fashion show titled “Plastic Architecture.” — AdFreak

How to twitter professionally. Check out this blog site dedicated to twitter-fads, for all you twitter-ignorant professionals out there. TwiTip is edited by Darren Rowse from ProBlogger Blog Tips and is all about Twitter. — Twitip