May 3, 2011

Fairfax slashes: ‘quality journalism’ with hundreds of fewer staff

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are preparing for a wave of industrial action after new Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood wielded the axe, sacking hundreds of production staff to achieve annual cost savings of $15 million.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are preparing for a wave of industrial action after new Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood wielded the axe this morning, sacking over 100 production staff to achieve annual cost savings of $15 million under the cover of an announcement spruiking “quality journalism”.

Newsrooms in Melbourne and Sydney were rocked when the horror news came through from Hywood shortly after 10am that sub-editors from Fairfax’s metropolitan titles would be hived off and replaced by Pagemasters contractors across three capital cities.

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16 thoughts on “Fairfax slashes: ‘quality journalism’ with hundreds of fewer staff

  1. Space Kidette

    Whether print media want to accept the realities or not, the times are a changing. Technology is changing the world, especially with the advent of social media.

    The media have arrogantly watched plunging reader numbers, and declining revenues and bagged new media bloggers as irrelevant. Well, ignore the future at your peril. These are the opening salvo’s of change in the media.

    Additionally, the 24 hour news cycle means readers can see for themselves exactly what is happening as it happens, and they no longer require analysis. Readers can analyse the situation for themselves, rendering the media and their factless opinions, irrelevant.

    If you fail to add value, you cease to exist in the minds of the reader.

    Get in front of thetechology trend and begin to add value or you will be left behind.

  2. SiobhanA

    I dare say it’s probably grammatically correct, but sheesh that title is awkward!

  3. Frank Campbell

    This is same Greg Hywood who was spruiked as a boss (at last) who “understood journalism” – because he was a journo…

    And the same soft-spoken Hywood who caressed a very respectful Jonathon Holmes to sleep on Media Watch last week…Holmes seemed reassured, and rested, after the experience. Hywood was like a fox discussing cuisine with an elderly chook.

    The giveaway in this piece is: ” A planned net annual saving of $3 million from the Herald editorial budget was a “lame outcome from an operation turning a net profit of $2.2 million a week.”

    Quite. Fairfax just want to be rid of the subs. So much so they’ll spend $25m now to get rid of them.

    Crikey may yet have to turn into a real newspaper…

  4. Pete from Sydney

    Agreed Siobhanna, Crikey could do with a couple of decent subs themselves, the error levels in the newsleter are on the increase

    Hey Space Kidette, what planet did you get that from….”they (the Readers) no longer require analysis”? says who? Analysis is king, not bloggers or tweets….12 million tweets per hour on Bin Laden, not terribly many would have added anything to the debate I’d wager, yet newspapers sales around the country were up…people wanted information not opinion

  5. sharman

    What quality journalism? The media in Australia simply rehashes government information releases, publishes gossip or tries to make a story out of a politician saying something inept. I thought the Crikey story a few months ago about journalists whinging because the governement made FOI releases public was hilarious. I would have thought that if a competent person had been reseaching a story for MONTHS they might be able to come up with a story before someone who had only looked at it for five minutes. Apparently not!

  6. Space Kidette

    Pete from Sydney,

    When the readers are seeing statements from Obama live, they don’t need analysis from anybody else to tell them what they have seen . The planet I am from is that I take information in and frame my own opinion. I don’t watch something and then want to be given my opinion by the journo’s who have seen as much as I have.

    Analysis is KING. But tell me, have you seen much lately? No, it is opinion, has little to do with the facts and usually they have not done anything like analysis, simply regurgitate Press releases.

  7. donica

    What’s a pagemaster? @Siobhan I agree with you.

  8. Sir Lunchalot

    Their cisculation figures are terrible.

    Look at the AFR, its dropped to around 75,000 a day, cause $3 is too expensive for what you get (corporate press release info) an a few comics and ads

  9. chpowell

    @Space Kidette: ‘..These are the opening salvo’s of change in the media’.

    Oh, dear. Where’s a sub editor when you need one?

    re: Australian broadsheets in general: there’s not enough news to support dailies. There should be three a week-and a weekend edition.

    Walter Cronkite’s take on the subject: “Too may reporters, not enough news”……!

  10. davirob

    Long term Age reader here,25/30 years.Maybe not what the Age should do but what I’d like.Full time rolling updates and analysis of any situation/circumstance/national/international by well informed intelligent journalists,neither particularly left or right.Don’t fill space just because you have to.Come up with other ways to entertain us/movies /book/food/sport/product reviews/could be from multiple sources but one easy lazy source for me/etc with flair.When ever I click I want to see what’s going on now/immediacy is all(not like over the weekend or the ABC at Xmas)and for coverage like this I would pay.I know you can shop around for this but I like to shop in my backyard first then move on. Layout,it’s got to be good,clear an accessible.Crikey are you listening?Maybe I’m being impractical but hey………..Re: the ABC,I know they’re still there but it amuses me how they get all angsty through the year an all bugger off for a month or so at xmas.

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