Redundancies offered at News in Melbourne. News Limited CEO Kim Williams is poised to eliminate 100 middle managers and back-office staff from the ailing media giant as Rupert Murdoch puts the squeeze on his antipodean operation to slim its bloated ranks. Three separate senior News Limited sources have told Crikey this morning that Williams’ heavily publicised clean-out of senior executives — including Greg Baxter, Peter Macourt, Sandra Hook and Steve Howard — has morphed into a general attrition program designed to meet a group-wide cost-cutting target of 6%.

This morning The Australian confirmed the departure of Howard as group managing editor after Crikey‘s exclusive report yesterday revealed his exit alongside that of Carsguide publisher Sue Klose and respected managing editor Ged Bulmer. Bulmer’s position has been made redundant and replacements are yet to be named. Crikey understands the cuts could result in widespread carnage inside News’ Human Resources department, putting staff in an unenviable position of rolling out plans for their own sacking.

Meanwhile, north of the Tweed, newsroom staff are on edge, with talk of a looming “restructure” at News Queensland that they fear may include job losses. Queensland editor-in-chief David Fagan told Crikey this morning information was “incorrect” and that there would be “no announcement” tomorrow as some staff Crikey spoke to believed. — Andrew Crook

UNESCO’s WikiLeaks conference snubs WikiLeaks. In the 1980s, the US withdrew from UNESCO, accusing it of being an anti-American, anti-Israel body. Twenty-five years later it’s being accused of being a US stooge, with news that the body is hosting a conference on journalism “after WikiLeaks and News of the World“, with neither of the named bodies being invited to participate.

UNESCO appears to have “subcontracted” the conference to a group called the “World Press Freedom Committee”, a classic Cold War-style ginger outfit (“based in Reston, Virginia” — two miles, from Langley, down Dulles Road), now part of “Freedom House”, an NGO group long used to advance US interests at arm’s length. WikiLeaks has denounced the conference, pointing out that no one from WikiLeaks, or News International for that matter, has been invited to speak (the only “pro-WikiLeaks” speaker being Geoffrey Robertson, who only became associated in a legal capacity once Julian Assange suffered personal legal problems).

The one WikiLeaks insider invited (but not attending) is Daniel Domscheit-Berg who left WikiLeaks to form “Openleaks”, a whistleblowing website that, 14 months after launching, is yet to publish, and who destroyed a large amount of WikiLeaks submissions after leaving the group.

WikiLeaks protested to UNESCO about its exclusion from the conference; WPFC rep Ronald Koven replied in Catch 22 style that: “I can only share in your attachment to freedom of expression. It must include our right to give voice to speakers of our choice.” He went on to say that: “The main focus of this conference is not about WikiLeaks as such …”. The titles of five of the six sessions contain the words “… after WikiLeaks”. Not that the World Press Freedom Committee is exactly a model of transparency itself. Try to find out via the committee website who the staff are, or who is even on the committee, and this is the result.

Doubtless the full story on the event will leak in due course. — Guy Rundle

Front page — err — back page of the day. Got #Linsanity? “Linsanity” is the name given to the incredible hype surrounding the meteoric rise of New York Knick’s point guard Jeremy Lin across the interwebs and social media — not to mention millions of basketball fans around the world. Born to Taiwanese immigrants, Lin has confounded experts and former coaches alike who never thought he had what it took to be the the player is today.

He scored a three pointer with 0.5 seconds left to beat the Toronto Raptors yesterday — leading the Knicks to a five-game winning streak. His home town paper’s back page today — The New York Post — is evidence of his new found celebrity. We think.

Fairfax leads decline of advertising market

“The national advertising market has recorded its worst monthly decline in revenue since September 2009, led by a 30 per cent collapse at Fairfax Media’s print division and weak results at other metropolitan newspapers.” — The Australian

Freed Australian journalist insists he’s no spy

“An Australian journalist who has been freed after being arrested in Egypt says he was accused of spying and denies crossing the line between journalism and activism.” — ABC News

Hamish McLennan joins News as EVP to Rupert

“One of Australia’s highest profile admen Hamish McLennan — who announced last year he was stepping down as global CEO of Y&R Advertising — has taken a senior role with News Limited’s parent company News Corporation.” — mUmBRELLA

Met probes claims Sun paid public officials

“The Scotland Yard investigation into alleged illegal payments by Sun journalists to police and other public officials is looking into claims that some individuals received more than £10,000 a year and were ‘effectively on retainer’.” — The Guardian

Laga’aia criticises Home & Away’s lack of diversity

“The Seven Network has denied claims by New Zealand-born actor Jay Laga’aia that he lost his job on Home & Away ‘because they couldn’t write two ethnics that weren’t together’.” — TV Tonight

The Twit who broke news of Whitney’s death before the press

“Twitter has long-established itself as the ‘go to’ place for breaking news, and this has never been so clearly demonstrated following the sad passing of music superstar Whitney Houston on Saturday.” — All Twitter

Digital subscribers to the Times continue to rise

“News International has released figures showing its digital subscriber base rose in January for both the Times and Sunday Times, while both iPad editions also saw increases in downloads of 35 per cent and 80 per cent respectively.” —