News Corp has gutted the newsrooms of two of Business Spectator‘s offshoot websites in recent weeks.

Climate Spectator and China Spectator have both lost journalists, with staff offered the option of taking a redundancy or accepting a transfer to other parts of the business. Only one — China Spectator‘s Beijing-based journalist Fergus Ryan — has left the organisation as a result of the restructure. The reallocation leaves the websites effectively operating as one-man shows, Crikey has been told.

The websites have always run on a shoestring, even before The Australian bought Business Spectator for a reported $30 million in 2012, generally with one editor and one journalist. With its journalist redeployed, Climate Spectator‘s continual operation will depend entirely on editor Tristan Edis. It’s a similar story at China Spectator, where Peter Cai will be responsible for providing a daily commentary piece as well as uploading news stories and subediting and publishing contributions from others.

Staff were informed of the changes several weeks ago, although many remain unsure of why the websites are being kept at all. Both websites have been slowly whittled down in recent months to their current position. A few months ago, China Spectator used to run four commentary pieces a day, 10 news stories, and a digest of stories in the Chinese media. That’s been significantly reduced — today the website usually runs two commentary pieces a day, along with mostly wire copy for news.

China Spectator is being gutted at a time when there’s plenty of news going on in the country. The Chinese sharemarket has been in freefall in recent weeks. And things haven’t been quiet on Climate Spectator‘s turf either. Green energy policy has, courtesy of the Abbott government, become a vexed and highly contentious issue at the same time as rapid technological advances change the economics of the sector.

The changes are just one of a number of integrations between the Business Spectator stable of websites and The Australian. On July 1, Business Spectator co-founder and key commentator Alan Kohler was made business editor-at large of The Australian, Supratim Adhikari, editor of Technology Spectator, moved to edit the Oz‘s tech section — a role he holds while continuing to edit Technology Spectator. Perhaps because of his dual position, Technology Spectator hasn’t been downsized to the same extent as the other offshoot websites — it retains a junior journalist, who also works for The Australian. Many of Business Spectator‘s staff have either been moved in full or in part to duties at The Australian.

While separate websites for Business Spectator‘s stable still exist for now, behind the scenes, the integration is almost complete.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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