From the desk of Williams: don’t believe them. Reports of significant job cuts at News Limited — including in Crikey — aren’t to be believed, CEO Kim Williams has assured staff in an email. Williams says the reports have all been “speculative, inaccurate and have clearly not originated from anyone with detailed knowledge or responsibility for the various changes we will be making to secure our future”. Crikey reported on Thursday that senior executives Diana Eilert and Tim Sligo have quit — confirmed by News — amid speculation of further staff cuts at regional newspapers.
Williams says the company is still working on its “strategic priorities and the pathway to related organisational and structural change”, with that document not due until May/June. Williams writes: “I will be embarking on a nationwide communication process to present the approach directly to everyone … Until you are told officially my advice is to ignore what you may read or hear, because in all probability it will be wrong and motivated by intentions that are invariably hostile to our company.”
In talking up the company’s achievements — including the launch of a subscription website for the Herald Sun and a redesigned Daily Telegraph newspaper today — the email reveals figures on how The Australian‘s paywall is faring will be released on Wednesday. Williams calls them “extremely encouraging”.
From: The Office of Kim Williams
Subject: Changes at News
You may have become aware of reports over the past few days about decreases in staffing levels at News Limited. These stories have all been speculative, inaccurate and have clearly not originated from anyone with detailed knowledge or responsibility for the various changes we will be making to secure our future.
It is sadly ironic that these stories run at a time when are proving our commitment to journalism right across the country.
Last Wednesday I had the great pleasure of opening News Queensland’s new building Keith McDonald House, a state-of-the-art newsroom unrivalled in this country. On Thursday I was in Darwin, opening a new printing press in Darwin that will service our customers far better and more efficiently than we have ever been able to.
This week we are launching digital subscriptions for the Herald Sun and relaunching The Daily Telegraph with a refreshed design. On Wednesday we will be revealing initial digital subscription numbers for The Australian, which are extremely encouraging.
All these initiatives are part of a substantial transformation program with the aim of improving our business and the quality of our products and ensuring that the company is fit for purpose in the very competitive world in which we now operate.
As we progress with the program News will always work with our valued staff to ensure that such changes are made with care and with a view to minimal disruption as we transform the company and make it stronger to deliver great products to consumers and advertisers.
When changes occur that affect you, you will be informed by your local management. Until you are told officially my advice is to ignore what you may read or hear, because in all probability it will be wrong and motivated by intentions that are invariably hostile to our company.
It saddens me that some of our team choose trade in inaccurate rumours externally, however it will continue and therefore we should expect a sequence of inaccurate stories as our competitors take whatever shots they elect to in endeavouring to create a story on the basis of no reliable information.
As I am sure you all know it is not News Limited’s practise to discuss internal organisational matters and general operational initiatives in public — therefore we will not be giving comment to other publications be them in print or online.
I previously advised that once we have formalised the strategic priorities and the pathway to related organisational and structural change, I will be embarking on a nationwide communication process to present the approach directly to everyone. I expect this will be in a May/June timeframe.
With all best wishes,
Paywall drops on Herald Sun site. The Herald Sun launches a brand-new website today, with a catch — you’ll eventually have to pay to read it. The News Limited tabloid follows The Australian in locking off its premium content to subscribers, with a two-month free trial for readers before a $2.95 per week fee (or up to $8.95/week with paper delivery). The new site features expanded coverage of crime and sport — clearly two of the biggest drivers to subscribe — with star columnists such as Terry McCrann and Andrew Bolt locked away.
Bolt’s wildly popular blog will remain free, and today he used it to pitch for business. He writes:
“As you can see below, you will now need to register to read my newspaper columns. For now it’s free, but eventually you’ll be asked to pay $2.95 a week to get all the Herald Sun articles on line, plus on-line only coverage.
“The reason is simple: it costs to bring you all this news and all these views. We’ve always charged for it when you buy the paper, and soon must also charge for it when you buy it on line. It’s great stuff, but if we don’t charge for it after years of giving it away for nothing, eventually we won’t be able to afford to bring it to you at all.
“It costs the price of coffee each week. Back your favorite source of news!”
Front page of the day. A big day for News Limited: the Hun has a new subscription website, and The Daily Telegraph gets a print makeover. There’s a redesigned masthead (to better match with the online products), new fonts, new colours and a new slogan — “We’re for Sydney”. Editor Paul Whittaker tells readers:
“We will never stop investing in and improving our newspaper for you, our readers. And it’s not all on the surface. We are not just launching a new look for The Telegraph but a new voice. We have never shied away from crusading for our readers and great city. Today we declare we will redouble that effort.
“We give notice to decision-makers that we will campaign tirelessly for the capital city our readers deserve. We will not allow our metropolis to be chain-bolted to old excuses for inaction. We are not for the past. We are for the future. We are for Sydney.”
Leveson asked to publish Motorman files
“The Leveson inquiry is under pressure to publish the files of Operation Motorman, the 2003 investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) into breaches of the Data Protection Act by newspapers.” — The Guardian
Syrian ‘citizen journalists’ use social media to spread word
“Social media networks have come to play an important part in the political unrest in Syria. The Syrian government barred most media from the country after the unrest began almost one year ago. But that has not stopped Syrians from getting out information to the rest of the world.” — Voice of America
Germany trying to cut publishers in on web profits
“In a move aimed at helping newspapers generate new revenue from struggling online operations, the German government intends to require search engines and other internet companies to pay publishers whose content they highlight.” — The New York Times
On the unlikely viral success of ‘Kony 2012’
“For better or worse, you’ve probably watched, or at least heard of, Invisible Children’s #kony2012 campaign. With some 57 million views in four days, ‘KONY 2012’ is a full-fledged mega-meme. Just how quickly did this viral video blow up? By one measure, it was the fastest of all Internet time. But the odds were stacked against it going viral.” — The Atlantic Wire