Some of The Age’s most senior journalists have put their name to a statement stating that the outsourcing of sub editing will be a “serious threat to the identity, integrity, quality and independence of The Age and The Sunday Age.”

The statement, posted under Latest News on the Age Independence Committee website is signed by Paul Austin, Ray Cassin, Jo Chandler, Roslyn Guy, Jesse Hogan, Tom Hyland, Graham Reilly, Simon Mann, Daniella Miletic, Michael Shmith, Michael Short, John Spooner, Barney Zwartz.

That’s a list that includes some people who have been spoken of as possible editors in chief in the past, as well as the paper’s chief leader writer (Ray Cassin), and the opinion editor (Paul Austin), as well as the most senior writers.

The independence committee, older readers will remember, was born in the dark days of the late 1980s, when the main threat to independence was  would-be buyers, not cost cutting. The last time it sprang to life was in 2008, when it was concerned about staff cuts, wrap arounds. It also instigated the famous virtual vote of no confidence in then Editor in Chief, Andrew Jaspan.

It is conceived as a committee of senior journalists with the support of the entire staff, rather than an industrial organisation.

Here’s the statement.

Latest news

May 6, 2011

Mr Roger Corbett, Chairman, Fairfax Media
Mr Greg Hywood, Managing Director and CEO
Mr Jack Matthews, CEO Metro Media

CC Paul Ramadge, editor-in-chief, The Age; Don Churchill, chief executive and publisher, Melbourne Publishing

Please find attached a copy of a statement from The Age Independence Committee in regard to the proposed outsourcing of sub-editing, together with a copy of The Age Charter of Editorial Independence. A brief history of the Charter can be found on our website www.maintainyourage.org. We are happy to speak with you at any time.

Regards,

The Age Independence Committee.

STATEMENT BY THE AGE INDEPENDENCE COMMITTEE

Fairfax has announced a plan to outsource parts of the editing process to Pagemasters, an agency in which Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited has a substantial shareholding.

The Age Independence Committee, which for more than 20 years has fought on behalf of readers and journalists to maintain the mastheads’ independent, Victorian voice, is deeply concerned at the implications of a shift to off-site sub-editing.

The loss of an internal production culture would raise serious threats to the identity, integrity, quality and independence of The Age and The Sunday Age.

In this fiercely competitive, fast-changing new media world, readers look to news organisations they can trust. Trust is fundamental to the value and viability of the Age mastheads. In-house sub-editors are crucial to maintaining the papers’ accuracy, integrity and immediacy.

We urge Fairfax management to seek ways to work creatively and collaboratively with its journalists to preserve an in-house production operation for The Age and The Sunday Age, and thereby preserve the value of the mastheads to readers, shareholders, advertisers, and to the Victorian community.

Signed:

Paul Austin, Ray Cassin, Jo Chandler, Roslyn Guy, Jesse Hogan, Tom Hyland, Graham Reilly, Simon Mann, Daniella Miletic, Michael Shmith, Michael Short, John Spooner, Barney Zwartz

On behalf of: THE AGE INDEPENDENCE COMMITTEE

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