The Canberra Times is losing some of its most experienced journalists who have kept alive the paper’s arts, literary, food and science pages for years.
Sweeping cuts at parent company Fairfax have started to bite at the Crimes. The redundancy process has begun, and respected literary editor Gia Metherell is understood to have put her hand up. Features editor Gillian Lord is reported to be leaving, and there are unconfirmed reports that arts editor Diana Streak is seeking a redundancy.
There are reports that “Food and Wine” section editor Kirsten Lawson is also seeking a redundancy, however Crikey understands that is incorrect and Lawson plans to stay involved in food at the paper. There have been suggestions that “Food and Wine” will be gutted of local content, although it’s not clear if that will be the case, as some newsroom sources believe management is mindful of the need to retain a significant amount of Canberra-specific food writing. Readers will have to wait and see.
It’s been confirmed that The Canberra Times’ locally-produced arts and literary pages will cease production, to be replaced by copy from Fairfax HQ. A Facebook page has been set up in an apparently doomed attempt to save the literary pages, which are highly-respected and provide extensive coverage.
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Long-serving Crimes science reporter Rosslyn Beeby has already left. It is understood she applied for a redundancy and was told she could leave shortly afterwards. Beeby apparently suggested she stay until the end of that week.
The paper’s press gallery bureau is to be shaved from four staff down to two — Chris Johnston and Ross Peake (a few years ago there were five to six bodies in the bureau). Emma MacDonald has been given a reprieve and will stay on in the parliamentary bureau until the end of the year. Peter Jean has already headed back to the Crimes mother ship in Fyshwick.
Crimes editor Rod Quinn’s mantra to staff is that there must be “no more duplication” with copy from other Fairfax mastheads. Crikey understands that he has received a high number of applications for redundancy since the process opened last week. “Pretty much all of the night desk” has applied, a source told Crikey, although some have been told they won’t be allowed to leave.
“Nobody’s particularly happy,” the insider said. “It’s highly uncertain.”
Applications for redundancy at the Crimes close in late August.