From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Silver lining at News. We hear not all News Ltd staff are down in the dumps this week, after CEO Kim Williams announced big changes and an unspecified number of staff cuts. A tipster reports that while those in the newspaper business are looking glum, some of News’ IT staff are “in very happy moods” because they’re in for increased budgets to implement new systems on at least two big projects in editorial and advertising. There are reports the extra work could be in the range of $100 million. Got any inside tips on what the changes at News and Fairfax mean on the ground? Let us know and we’ll keep track.

Culls at CPR. We hear the PR and lobbying giant CPR Communications has fallen on hard times and is now reduced to a rump of about 10 staff. Insiders say “some really good people” have been let go, with the latest round made redundant on Monday. This is a come-down from a peak of more than 50 consultants, and offices in every state.

At least 10 consultants have been laid off in the past two months, with the heads of the Canberra and Brisbane offices leaving recently. Over the past 18 months the heads of Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney, Perth and Darwin are rumoured to have left. Insiders say the remaining CPR staff are mostly in the Melbourne office.

A daily bites the dust? Rumours are circling that the Townsville Bulletin will shift from a daily to a thrice-weekly paper. The tropical tabloid, owned by News Ltd, has been publishing since 1881, and is currently Monday to Saturday. A source from within the newsroom says there is talk that the paper will move to three editions a week, and absorb the sister masthead, the free Townsville Sun. “A fairly sad step for a paper with a history right back to 1881,” the source writes.

A spokeswoman for the Townsville Bulletin said rumours of the shift were not true. “We categorically deny it,” she told Crikey, although when pressed she did add the paper would not switch to thrice-weekly “as far as we know”. Know of other newspapers that might be scaling back? Email us here.

I may not agree with what you say, but … federal Nationals MP Michael McCormack wants to find out your views on gay marriage — so long as you agree with him. McCormack has issued a survey, online and in the post in his NSW electorate, to gauge his constituents’ views. “The opinions and beliefs of the people in the Riverina are essential to me to represent those views in federal parliament,” the Riverina MP grandly told the Daily Advertiser.

One of the questions is “do you support same-s-x marriage”, but it’s not quite clear why anyone would bother answering that one, given that McCormack went on to tell the Advertiser: “I went to the election and said I wouldn’t support same-s-x marriage … I’m not someone who goes back on my word, so I won’t be changing my stance on that issue”.

He may not be interested in what you think about gay marriage, but he sure is keen to know who you vote for. One question asked voters if they ALWAYS or USUALLY support the Nationals, Liberals, Labor, Greens, Family First, Independent / Other. Respondents are also invited to give McCormack their title, name, address, occupation, email, telephone and fax. The poll was sent to Crikey by a constituent who thought everyone could do with a laugh at the end of a dark week in media.

If you’d like to share your thoughts with McCormack so he can ignore them but possibly pop around for a cup of tea to talk to you about your vote, the survey is here:

*Do you know more? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed-anonymous form

Peter Fray

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